There were two pieces in the Wall Street Journal last week on the subject of the US venture capital market losing momentum. First there was a piece about the widening gap between capital being invested and capital being raised.
And hot on the heels of this there was a piece about a possible ‘cash crunch’ saying that some of the momentum had come out of the market, that some start-ups were struggling to raise money and valuations were starting to come down.
I think the US market is cooling off a little and see this as a healthy and inevitable phase for it to go through. Over the last few years the megatrends of cloud computing, social and mobile have jet-propelled the start-up scene and as a result more and more exciting companies have emerged that seemed to have the potential to really disrupt their industries. The trailblazers for this new generation are companies like Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, Groupon, LinkedIn, Dropbox and Skype.
However, as sure as night follows day, a heated market will always be followed by an over-heated market. You know you’re in an over-heated market when valuations get so high it’s difficult to work out how they were calculated, more and copycat companies emerge and all start-up related costs go through the roof such as office space and salaries.
At the end of the day even an exciting and fast-growing market is ultimately finite – we only have a certain amount of money to spend. In all the excitement people sometimes forget this.
So things are cooling off a little but I see this as a natural correction in the cycle and I don’t expect there to be a dramatic fall in valuations and confidence – as I’ve said before I really don’t believe this is like the bubble of 2001. This new generation of companies are leveraging the three megatrends of mobile, social and cloud computing that are completely reshaping the technology landscape – and the largest ones are so much more mature with much more substantial revenues than was the case ten years ago.