Some of the greatest companies in tech were started, or funded, during a recession. A number of people I know are starting companies today despite the economic times. Others are holding back, worried that a great company can not get up and running during a recession. Evidence to the contrary below :-) (in no particular order)
Cisco Systems. Funded 2 weeks after "Black October" market crash, 1987. As the global leader in networking gear, Cisco posted 2008 revenue of $39 billion.
Wikipedia was started in January 2001 (during the dot com bust). Now the #8 most trafficked website on the planet according to Alexa.
HP. Hewlett Packard was founded in 1939 - right as the US was transitioning out of the Great Depression due to WWII. HP now operates in most countries worldwide and generated almost $92 billion in revenue in 2006.
Sun Microsystems. Founded in February 1982, Sun Microsystems was born in the recession of the early 1980s.
General Electric. A cutting edge technology company of its day ("there is this magic thing called 'electricity'") GE was started in 1876 during the "panic of 1873" (which, despite its name was actually a 6 year downturn lasting through 1879).
Amgen. The world's biggest biotech and maker of EPO was founded during the recession of 1980.
Fairchild Semiconductor. One of the pioneering semiconductor companies of its day (and a "grand daddy company" of Silicon Valley), Fairchild Semiconductor was founded in 1957, a new company growing into the recession of 1957. Fairchild's founders included Eugene Kleiner (who went on to found VC Kleiner Perkins) Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce (founders of Intel)
Logitech. Started in the recession of the early 1980s by two Stanford grads, Logitech recently shipped its 1 billionth mouse (the computer peripheral, not the animal!)
So what are you waiting for? Go out and do something great!!! :-)
Know of any other great tech companies started in a downturn? Drop me a line :)