A series of negative signals about the value of technology companies, the stinging cost of slowing growth at tech concerns, and several ancillary signals from the more speculative regions of the tech market sum to a dramatically changed market.
It’s worth remembering just how wild the last two years have been in startup land. Back in early 2020, as the pandemic barreled into a number of sectors, layoffs swept the startup industry. The cuts were so frequent that a tracker was built to keep tabs on the carnage. Then, as we all recall, investors realized that the tech industry was going to excel during a period of working from home, and here at TC, we swapped tabulating the latest startup staffing cuts for tracking an accelerating IPO market.
How things have changed.
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For example, if you bought bitcoin one year ago, you’re sitting on more than 30% losses today. As we explored earlier this week, the NFT market is also slowing.
In less speculative areas, there are still signs of a slowdown. Klarna’s 2021 numbers indicate that the BNPL market, a huge startup focus around the world, is going to be an expensive growth proposition. So much so that we could see more combinations in the space as the number of BNPL players surpasses what the market might be able to carry.
The IPO market is another downward signal, with the upcoming calendar of public-market debuts looking essentially barren. Mobileye, yes, will go out, but that’s Intel spinning out a previously public company, so it hardly counts — though we will be watching.
EV companies that soared after they went public are seeing their values crash after they failed to meet 2021 investor targets or 2022 projections.
And investors have decided that a host of the hottest tech companies in the world — the GitLabs, HashiCorps, and other former startups that sell to developers — are worth merely a fraction of what they had previously been valued.
We’re also seeing a return of the need to track staffing cuts at richly funded startups. Looking at recent headlines, we’ve seen layoffs at Hyperscience (growth targets missed, last round $100 million); WeDoctor (layoffs after IPO delays, last round $411 million); and OkCredit (business model refocus, last round $67 million). Indeed, tracker Layoffs.fyi notes that the pace of startup layoffs has risen recently, partially due to Better.com’s successive cuts after its market crumbled from underneath it.
The stakes are not getting lower. This week we saw DocuSign get its valuation whacked after posting slower-than-expected growth guidance. So what, right? We’ve seen that enough times in recent months; we’ve covered the issue to near-death.