A comparison of NFL quarterbacks and tech companies, to help both football and market enthusiasts get ready for the coming football season.
Tech companies and NFL quarterbacks have a surprising amount in common.
While tech stocks carry outsize influence, often dictating the direction of the whole market, professional football teams are also at the whim of their signal-callers. The market would crash if tech stocks started failing — the dot-com bubble anyone? — just in the way an injury to an NFL team's starting quarterback usually spells certain disaster.
Now, as the NFL season kicks off, many casual football fans are trying to get up to speed on which players and teams to watch. And there's no better place to start than with the guys who are throwing the passes.
Below is a breakdown to help make sense of it all, with a special focus on the tech companies that best embody some of the league's most notable quarterbacks.
It took Amazon and Rodgers years of quietly toiling away at their respective trades, plotting world domination, for them to break out and realize their immense potential. Amazon is now disrupting every industry in sight, while Rodgers is continuing his reign of terror over opposing defenses and once is again expected to carry his team to a fantastic season. And, like Amazon, Rodgers is showing no signs of slowing.
Also notable is how both Amazon and Rodgers faced their share of doubters during their respective ascents. Short-sighted pessimists first questioned Amazon's initial foray into online bookselling and then scratched their heads when the retail juggernaut broadened its scope. Rodgers suffered the indignity of slipping to the 24th pick in the NFL draft, despite being projected as a top selection, and then was stuck as Favre's understudy for three full seasons.
The two undisputed kings of their respective fields. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a five-time Super Bowl champion and a two-time NFL MVP, and he is widely considered to be one of the best to ever play the game. Apple is the biggest company in the world, is still growing rapidly, and holds more cash than many small nations.
Both Brady and Apple got where they are today because of legendary leadership. Brady has benefited greatly from the tutelage of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, one of the greatest and winningest coaches in NFL history. Apple prospered under the visionary guidance of CEO Steve Jobs, who designed such landscape-altering products as the iPhone during his tenure.
That's not to say the two have always had it easy. Brady tore an ACL in his team's first game in 2008 and missed the rest of the season. Similarly, Jobs was fired in 1985, a move that almost destroyed the company. Needless to say, both entities bounced back, and today they are viewed as unstoppable forces.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton experienced almost immediate success upon entering the NFL in 2011, winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and eventually carrying his team to the Super Bowl. Facebook initially had a little tougher time gathering steam, but it still managed to grow its market cap by roughly 50% over its first two years after going public in 2012. It has since become one of the most valuable companies in the world.
Further, Newton is already one of the elite few to have been named an NFL MVP (in 2015), while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is one of the richest people in the world, with a net worth of roughly $70 billion.
That's not to say their respective ascents were without hiccups — both were accused of stealing early in their careers. Newton was suspended from the University of Florida football team in 2008 after he was arrested on suspicion of stealing a laptop from another student, while Zuckerberg was sued over claims that he stole the idea for Facebook from the Winklevoss twins.
They both recovered swiftly. Newton transferred to Auburn, where he won a national championship and the Heisman Trophy as the country's top player, while Zuckerberg was able to move past the lawsuit to become the highly respected billionaire CEO he is today.
Luck has turned middling success on the field into a six-year, $139 million contract, benefiting greatly from his reputation as a genius. Meanwhile, Tesla has amassed a market value of $58 billion at least partially due to investor confidence in genius founder and CEO Elon Musk, despite not turning a profit and burning through cash.
Further, while Luck's unfulfilled potential as a passer has been largely attributed to his weak supporting cast, Musk — and by extension Tesla — is currently being hampered by production challenges.
This is not to say Luck, nor Tesla, are undeserving. Many NFL general managers would trade their own kidneys to have Luck line up under center, while Wall Street analysts are more bullish than not on Tesla.
And did I mention they share a Stanford pedigree? (Although Musk abandoned his Ph.D. studies after just two days, while Luck graduated with an architecture degree and an Orange Bowl victory.)
Dak Prescott exploded onto the NFL scene with the Dallas Cowboys last season, winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and putting up downright absurd stats from the start. Modestly picked in the third round of the NFL draft, Prescott took the reins from day one and led the Cowboys to the best record in the National Football Conference.
Alibaba has enjoyed a similarly unstoppable ascent since going public in 2014. The China-based e-commerce behemoth's stock has surged a whopping 150% since then, and has nearly doubled in 2017 alone.
And the future looks incredibly bright for both. By all accounts, Prescott has looked like even more of a budding superstar in the pre-season, which should strike fear in any and all opponents. Meanwhile, Alibaba is enjoying almost unanimous support from Wall Street analysts, boasting 47 buy ratings, 3 holds and 0 sells.
Both Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Twitter have been major beneficiaries of the success of their peers. Tannehill came into the NFL in the same draft as Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, two players that have vastly outperformed him thus far. Still, Tannehill inked a six-year, $95 million contract that was in the same ballpark of the far more deserving Luck and Wilson, largely riding on the coattails of their valuations.
The same was true for Twitter — at least until recently. The social media company went public in 2013 and was rewarded with a valuation of around $45 billion after two days of trading. Twitter wound up surging more than 40% over its first 18 months, which some chalked up to the so-called momentum trade — when a stock is bought because of its affiliation with other companies in the same universe, rather than its own fundamentals. In this case, those more elite peers would include the likes of Facebook and Google.
You won't be seeing Tannehill this year — he tore his ACL about a month ago. That devastating news came after he was already on thin ice, having underwhelmed coaches and fans for multiple years in a row. A similar reality check has hit Twitter of late, with the company's valuation falling to a much more modest $12 billion.
Two seasons ago, Smith was set to be the starting quarterback for the crosstown New York Jets, until a teammate broke his jaw over a small money dispute. Just recently, Blue Apron was set to go public at a robust valuation, before Amazon announced its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, spooking investors worried about increased competition in the meal kit delivery space. Smith lost his job, never to regain it, while Blue Apron was forced to make a major cut to its initial public offering valuation.
Now that Smith is on the Giants, you still won't be seeing him much, if at all, this season. He's currently embedded as the back-up to incumbent Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl champion. Meanwhile, Blue Apron is trading 48% below its already-trimmed public offering price, and its future looks grim.
Now some of you may be thinking that Blue Apron is not a actually tech stock. But Geno Smith is similarly not actually a starting quarterback in the NFL, so a stretch has been made in this particular case.