Welcome to Q4, friends. If you were hoping to begin the final chunk of 2022 with good news, tough. We’re starting the quarter off with rough data instead.
Sure, we’re waiting on data dumps from CB Insights, PitchBook, and Crunchbase about Q3 venture capital aggregates, but one particular bellwether indicator that we track here at The Exchange is flashing weakness as we stare down a holiday- and event-filled race to the end of the calendar year.
We’re taking a look at unicorn fodder today. Unicorns eat capital and excrete value, at least in theory, a relationship that was in full swing last year. Huge, nine-figure venture capital rounds were fueled by crossover investors and others piling into startup territory, pushing up the valuation of many a startup to stratospheric levels. Some of those bets will pay off, like the Figma Series E from last June. Many will not.
What matters for our purposes, however, is that the pace at which unicorns are raising capital is slowing down not just from last year’s epic fundraising period but even compared to the more distant past. If unicorns are not able to raise as much this year as they did in, say, 2019, how many of the billion-dollar-plus startups are going to survive?
Not that we’re going to forecast a unicorn culling this early in the week, but the data is troubling.
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Today, we’ll consider Crunchbase data to get a handle on where investor sentiment rests today and then chat about what could break the logjam.