Let’s stop pretending there are silos in startupland

I have been thinking a lot about silos, or the lack thereof, within startupland. There’s sometimes an artificial wall that is put up between companies at different stages of growth, when in reality, everyone is in the same room, clinking glasses and tripping over the same rug.

Let me be more precise. As the late-stage market has cooled down for tech companies, many early-stage investors say their portfolio companies aren’t too impacted because they’re years away from an exit and have enough capital to weather uncertainty. The same energy was on display this week at TechCrunch Early Stage. Stellation Capital’s Peter Boyce II coyly told me that, based on the term sheet he wrote yesterday, we’re still definitely in a founder-friendly market, while a pair of entrepreneurs not so subtly reminded me that experimental bets are still landing significant funding rounds.

I believe in optimism and think of this time in early-stage startups as a recorrection, not a reckoning. But, new PitchBook and NVCA data does show that dollars are changing across the board.

The latest report says that venture-backed companies attracted nearly $71 billion during Q1, behind in pace from every quarter in 2021 but still ahead of pre-pandemic totals. Digging more deeper into the seed stage, the research team reports that seed deal sizes are starting to look more toward historical norms than outsized absurdities (OK, OK I made that last part up). At the same time, valuations continue to grow with the median pre-money valuation at $12 million. A fun dichotomy investors have to pay a pretty penny for.