Markets stabilized this morning, following an upturn in Shanghai. But the first four trading days mark the worst start of a year ever for the Dow and S&P 500.
The markets have fallen out of love with tech companies. Among those pummeled has been Fitbit (FIT), which lost almost a third of its value since the New Year, and half since its peak last summer. Fitbit CEO James Park was at the Leaders in Technology dinner at CES last night, and took a philosophic pose: “All we can do is focus on what we can control, and what we can control is launching great products. The stock price will take care of itself.” (Park also narrowly lost his Fitbit challenge with CES maestro Gary Shapiro.)
Mighty Apple (AAPL) saw its shares fall under $100 yesterday for the first time in 15 months, closing at $96.45, down from its peak of $133. The only stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average off to a good start this year is Walmart (WMT).
Separately, the most interesting person I met at CES this year was Emmanuel Macron, the French Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital affairs. A 38-year-old former investment banker, Macron has become the champion of French start-ups, bringing more than 100 of them as his entourage to CES, and flying with them on to Silicon Valley after last night’s dinner.
At a panel I moderated yesterday, Macron said the top policy challenge in France was to “reduce the cost of failure” for new companies by easing regulation – language not normally heard from French bureaucrats. Speaking at the dinner last night, he said: “I want to remind you that entrepreneur is a French word. We lost it. But now we are recovering it… We are changing, and we have to change.” Some in France speculate he could be a future presidential candidate.
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