Jan 31, 2020 - Economy & Business

Venture capital has no guesses as to what 2020 has in store

Gif of George Washington illustration with shifty eyes.
Illustration by Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Over the past 48 hours at the Upfront Summit, I've met with at least 50 venture capitalists and nearly as many limited partners in venture capital funds, representing varying geographies, experiences, and specialties.

My goal in such settings is to suss out a consensus trend or sentiment. The same thing that keeps arising in varied conversation, unprompted. For the first time I can remember, there wasn't one.

Venture's first half of 2019 was all about the rapid ascent, whether it be round sizes or valuations — fueled by everything from SoftBank to public SaaS multiples. Then came WeWork, and it felt like the climb was over. Everyone was Wile E. Coyote on the downhill, waiting to be flattened by a boulder.

But then it didn't happen.

  • Things didn't really get worse, save for some portfolio company layoffs that were relatively mild in comparison to the buildup.
  • Things didn't really get better, outside of increased focus on profitability.
  • So everyone just kept pushing along, doing deals. Running on limbo's treadmill.

Bottom line: 2020 is beginning as the year of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

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