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Heard in the hallways at RE+ and Blueprint

Earth with three red dots on it

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Climate investors and founders hit Las Vegas this week for a pair of clean energy conferences — and seemingly everyone wanted to know whether the market is re-emerging from its chill.

Context: RE+, the big kahuna of climate gatherings, drew more than 30,000 people, and it overlapped with Blueprint, a tech-focused real estate conference that featured sustainability this year.

What they're saying: Folks were willing to talk in the hallways, but asked not to be identified.

  • "I'm looking for a signal if there's as much promise as there was two years ago," one venture investor told Axios.
  • "I'm sussing out how much pain is being felt by founders," another investor said.

Yes, but: Downturns don't affect everyone equally. Take software startups:

  • "The ones selling to the large enterprises who are now sitting on their checkbooks — there's some twitching in the corner of their eyes," a funder told Axios.

Meanwhile, venture investors were venting about the banks.

  • "I'm tired of the $30 million financings. It's time for the $150 million financings," one venture investor said. "Where are the bankers?"

State of play: Banks remain reluctant to provide loans for a startup's first major factory, leaving more expensive equity investments the only option.

  • "You shouldn't have to build factories with 30% to 40% cost of capital," one climate venture investor said, referring to the high cost imposed by equity investment. "You should be doing that with 10% to 15% cost of capital."

Between the lines: Silicon Valley Bank used to own that lane. These days, less so.

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