McIlwain: Tech investors need to tread carefully with IT giants

|By:, SA News Editor

Only 5 of the 10 largest tech companies by market cap were on 2000's top-10 list, notes VC Matt McIlwain in a column highlighting the risks posed to tech investors betting heavily on IT giants.

McIlwain also observes 7 "big tech" names - IBM, H-P, EMC, Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, and Intel - have collectively seen nearly flat sales/profit growth over the last two years. Recent industry sales figures - PCs, servers, storage - help explain why.

He argues recent trends - the mobile transition, the rise of subscription-based cloud apps, the migration of workloads to cloud infrastructures - makes him "a doubter in aggregate future value creation for current Big Tech companies."

The business model changes caused by the cloud shift, and a general pickup in the pace of change, especially worry him. Sales policies need to be overhauled to deal with subscription pricing; traditional "account control" is undermined as decisions shift from CIOs to individual departments; and companies with tens of thousands of employees have a harder time quickly reacting to change than smaller firms.

Tech ETFs, many of which have a strong "big tech" component to them: QQQ, XLK, QTEC, IGM, IYW, PTF, MTK, XLK, VGT, RYT, FXL, PSCT, TECL, ROM, TECS, REW, TDIV