The Myth of "Peak Venture"

7.2.2019

To the casual observer, it may seem like all signs are pointing to “peak venture.” The news is full of stories exposing the excesses of the industry and predicting its imminent collapse. And to be fair, there’s plenty for people to worry about: fundraising for venture is at an all-time high; prices by round are setting records; unprofitable IPOs are back in vogue with public investors willing to bet big on businesses burning through cash; and possibly the most alarming indicator of all, Patagonia is so concerned by its association with the image of VCs that it announced it will no longer allow financial firms to add their logos to their signature fleece vests. An entire generation of aspiring venture capitalists cut off from the one piece of clothing that expresses their love for both casual outdoor adventures and MOIC.

One of the problems with the “peak venture” view is that these same market factors have been in effect for years, and yet the market has continued to take off, seemingly unfazed. Venture and growth equity have consistently outperformed the broader private markets, the developed market buyouts and the public benchmarks over the last one-, five- and ten-year periods. And, in that same period, HBO has filmed five seasons of Silicon Valley – so shouldn’t the euphoria have subsided by now? What’s fueling this market beyond Soylent and raw ambition? To answer that, we zipped up our vests, laced up our Allbirds and dove into our data to better understand what’s driving this growth and how sustainable it could be.


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