To put it mildly, the meteoric collapse of Silicon Valley Bank has been a historic time of confusion for everyone the startup ecosystem touches. VCs are wringing their hands (or not) over how they can help their portfolio companies; startup founders and CEOs are running about trying their very best to plan for the foreseeable future; and vendors and partners are either helping those affected or asking for reassurances that they’ll be paid or serviced properly.
Maëlle Gavet, CEO of Techstars, vividly describes what things have been like behind the scenes: “It’s been unbelievably intense from Thursday until when the Federal Reserve finally made an announcement saying that deposits were going to be guaranteed. It’s been both for TechStars as an operating company, and for the 3,500 portfolio companies we have. A portion of them were banking with SVB, either exclusively or partially. We had so many concerns. How would we pay employees and honor our bills? How do we make sure that the company survives the next week and then the next month and then the next six months? So, ‘intense’ — that’s the word I would use to describe the experience.”
We are encouraging companies to diversify where they do their banking to make sure they can withstand challenges and ensure business continuity. Niko Bonatsos, MD, General Catalyst
While many founders and VCs have shared similar experiences as they try to navigate this confusion, the future ahead is even hazier. The general consensus seems to be that SVB’s collapse may have far-reaching consequences for venture capital, startups and the entire financial sector in the U.S.
But what will those consequences be? To better understand how investors are thinking about this, we spoke to a few investors affected by the collapse and asked them about the long-term implications, how cash management is set to change, who’s been hurting the most and who will come away with a golden opportunity.
- Maëlle Gavet, CEO, Techstars
- Niko Bonatsos, managing director, General Catalyst
- Colin Beirne, partner, Two Sigma Ventures
Maëlle Gavet, CEO, Techstars
What are some of the unseen or longer-term consequences of the recent banking crisis?
There will be a shift away from what I call middle banking. It used to be that startups would bank with SVB or with other banks that are not the top four. Now there’s going to be this divergence towards having one bank account with a big bank and then trying experiments with others. There’s going to be an extreme shift in general in the financial industry when it comes to financing startups.
I also expect more regulation for the VC and startup world. Six months ago, when valuations started crashing, the world and D.C. were looking at it. Yes, valuations are going down, but it just impacts all these LPs that invested, so it’s basically back to normal.
D.C. didn’t really care about what was happening there. I think, in this case, they’re going to care about how the tech world operates because they’ve suddenly found themselves caught off guard over the weekend. The overall financing system in the United States is going to explode because of one bank in Silicon Valley. I would expect more regulation to happen.
Every time there is a negative incident, the tech ecosystem tries to reinvent itself and often falls back to its old habits. If SVB is not there anymore, how do you create financing for a startup? You need to think about fundraising in a different way. Maybe you need to back different companies.
We’re probably going to see consolidation in the VC class. It was already on the way, but this is probably going to accelerate it, because SVB was also a preeminent provider of loans for GPs to make their capital commitment polls.