One Unusual Indicator Spells Trouble for Silicon Valley

Sales of ping-pong tables are down
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2016 2:29 PM CDT
One Unusual Indicator Spells Trouble for Silicon Valley

A post at Silicon Beat notes that one question is on everybody's mind in the tech world: "Are we in a tech bubble, and when is it going to burst?" Some traditional indicators don't bode well for Silicon Valley, with a big one being that IPO numbers in the first quarter of this year are at their lowest since the dismal days of 2008. The Wall Street Journal reports that a far less traditional indicator isn't too rosy, either: Sales of ping-pong tables are down. Consider these two stats: Sales of tables at Billiard Wholesale in San Jose are down 50% the first three months of this year, and startup funding is down 25% over the same period. "Last year, the quarter was hot," says the owner, but now "there's a general slowdown." Another table seller reports a similar downturn since Christmas.

The story looks at the rise of the ping-pong culture among tech companies and finds anecdotal evidence to support the notion that as table sales go, so goes the industry. Quartz, however, notes that other factors might be at play, including a growing sentiment that perks such as game rooms are being seen as superficial and "overrated." In a recent post at Forbes, for example, a blogger urged company leaders "to step away from the ping-pong table" and spend more on hiring and development than free snacks and toys. But turning that sentiment into reality might take a while. “If you don’t have a ping-pong table, you’re not a tech company,” says the chief technology officer at Lithium Technologies. (Here's how one Silicon Valley company valued at $10 billion is tightening its belt.)

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