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Even well-capitalized startups feel the funding slowdown

Jun 27, 2022
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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Speak to fintech founders and many will say they've been lucky, that they've been insulated from the downturn and funding pullback because they raised recently, or were careful with their capital, or (insert reason here).

Yes, but: As became clear from conversations with fintech entrepreneurs and investors at the Collision conference in Toronto last week, everyone has been affected.

Driving the news: Deel CEO Alex Bouaziz told Axios that the remote team management company put a hiring freeze in place at the start of the year.

  • Though Bouaziz believes his business to be relatively recession proof (with companies hiring cheaper labor outside the U.S. to cut costs), Deel still stopped taking applicants out of caution over macro events.
  • The company is now hiring again but with tougher controls in place — meaning that it is likely to add a lower headcount than had the downturn not happened.
  • It also plans to spend aggressively on M&A.

Similarly, revenue-based lending company Clearco has slimmed down parts of its operations despite having its best month ever in May.

  • "We have roles and projects that no longer make sense in this economy, and we have roles that we still need and still need to double down on," Michele Romanow, the company's CEO, says.
  • Although Clearco is still doing "controlled hiring" in, for example, its high-growth German market, it is stepping back from some more experimental, longer-term projects.
  • The company said it "deprioritized" its ClearAngel project, which focuses on funding early-stage companies, at the end of last year.

The bottom line: Even those that are well-capitalized are reacting to the market's shift.

  • "We're beginning to see the return of what used to be the norm," TechStars CEO Mäelle Gavet says, noting how some valuations are beginning to come down and the amount of time spent on due diligence is growing once again.
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