Dec 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Upfront Ventures: Pandemic has made many startups stronger

Axios' Dan Primack and Kara Nortman

Axios' Dan Primack (left) and Kara Nortman, managing partner, Upfront Ventures. Photo: Axios

Venture capitalists are working in "one of the hottest markets I think any of us have ever operated in our lifetime," Kara Nortman, managing partner at Los Angeles-based Upfront Ventures, said on Wednesday during an Axios virtual event.

The big picture: The industry expected a major slowdown in deal-making at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but reality did not meet the dismal expectations.

Airbnb filing for a long-awaited IPO during a year of restricted travel and quarantines was "one of the bigger surprises, she added, "because we thought no one would be traveling."

  • "And it turns out what happened to Airbnb is really indicative of, I think, what happened to a lot of companies, which is a lot of companies that thought they would be impacted negatively, [but] actually became more efficient and really looked at how they're operating," she said.

What they're saying: "I think the big miscalculation was that everybody was going to be affected in the same way by this," Nortman said. "All industries, all people."

One level deeper: On whether America’s entrepreneurial power dispersing beyond Silicon Valley is bad news for Los Angeles, Nortman said: "I think it's about people making deliberate choices about where they want to start and found their next company and set up headquarters."

  • "That is not slowing down. I've only seen it speed up."
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