Early data says nope
The pandemic trade ended a little while ago. The COVID-induced boom that powered a host of tech companies is also fading quickly. The results are showing up in Big Tech earnings. For startups, it’s bad news — the good times of the last few years appear to be in rapid decline, with many startups holding onto speculative valuations and revenues more nascent than impressive.
The question before us is simple: Can the investing dynamics of the venture capital market slow to the point that startup valuations (expectations, essentially) reach parity with potential exit valuations (forecasts, essentially) before too many young tech companies are priced like early- to mid-2021 exits are still possible?
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The warning signs are piling up, and we’re not just talking about a changing monetary environment, though that does matter. We’re seeing tech companies on the public markets struggle to meet investor expectations for future growth in any number of categories.
Social media? Struggling. Fintech? Struggling. Content streaming? Struggling. Trading? Struggling. Key industries that spawned a host of high-priced startups are staring down a market in which their public comps are taking on water faster than bulls can bail.
And the damage could get even worse. After all, we’ve not even begun the monetary tightening expected in the rest of the year. This is just the beginning.
Facebook shares are off around 25% this morning, cutting around $200 billion from its market cap. The Nasdaq Composite is off 1.8% as a whole. Cloud stocks are off 1.6%. Snap’s stock is off 19%. After falling from around $175 per share to around $130 yesterday, PayPal is off another 4% this morning. Spotify stock is off 17%. Fintech stocks, depending on your index of choice, are off more than 2%.
All this after we saw the selloff from December through the new year in the value of software companies. It’s a changed landscape.
Why? Investors had valued a host of companies like their pandemic bump was more akin to their new reality. However, it turns out that a lot of pandemic growth wasn’t free — it came at the expense of later growth. In dork terms, revenue and user growth were not generated amid COVID-19, but pulled forward. This led to great near-term results, but slower growth in the medium term as companies had already eaten their second and third courses during the pre-dinner drinks portion of the evening meal.