CES Opens at a Perilous Time for Tech

Photograph by Mnmall

Tech is bracing for some genuine fear and loathing in Las Vegas next week.

Against a backdrop of a shaky stock market, tariff talks with China, and the threat of a recession roiling the tech and chips markets, the massive Consumer Electronics Show kicks off on Jan. 6 in the Nevada desert. It’s the first time since 2009 that CES has opened with the Nasdaq Composite in a bear market.

A year ago, Nvidia (ticker: NVDA) was tech’s hottest stock and Apple (AAPL) was well on its way to becoming the first publicly traded U.S. company to reach $1 trillion in market value. Now, all bets are off: Nvidia tumbled 31% in 2018. Apple fell 7%, and has had a terrible start to 2019.

The worst has come since early October: Nvidia stock has plunged 53%, while Apple stock is down 36%. (Nvidia continues to deal with leftover inventory after the cryptocurrency implosion.)

Micron Technology (MU) CEO Sanjay Mehrotra projected unbridled optimism when he met with Barron’s at CES a year ago, and his company reported better-than-expected fiscal-second-quarter results a few months later.

But his chip company’s shares plunged 23% in 2018, and it offered a gloomy forecast during its earnings report in mid December.

Weakness in the chip market has had a ripple effect throughout tech, underscoring a slowdown in customer demand while heightening concerns about an economic downturn.

There’s still muted optimism in Silicon Valley over the 2019 tech initial-public-offering class, which “could be the best year in at least a decade,” according to Sandy Miller, a general partner at Institutional Venture Partners and one of the deans of Silicon Valley’s iconic Sand Hill Road. IVP is an investor in Slack Technologies and

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