Investments

With Startup Valuations Down, VC Firms Seek Deals

With valuations sinking, startups are becoming reticent to fundraise like normal. But venture capital firms, seeing the lower prices, are becoming more aggressive on buying amid the weak markets right now.

A Forbes piece, quoting numerous experts in the field, paints the picture of an environment where startups and even bigger businesses and unicorns find themselves with a lack of funding, but also where venture capital firms are ready to be on the market.

Data from Dealroom.co, which tracks European startups, says valuations are down by around 40 percent for startups.

Because of that, smaller startups that have been profitable could find themselves facing piqued interest from venture capitalists, according to TravelPerk co-founder and CEO Avi Meir, although other experts note that the road ahead could just as easily be very tough on small businesses.

That comes from investors looking into new, previously unexplored fronts of the market, looking for “pockets of things that people haven’t looked at,” according to Thomas Beaudoin of Goodwin, who advises on venture capital funds. So startups, previously focused on growth, now might find it more lucrative to look at profits.

The bigger businesses and unicorns may have a particularly difficult time in that arena, though, as they’ll need to try and raise funds anyway despite the market not being right for that currently.

One example is London-based challenger bank unicorn Monzo, which has been hit hard by the pandemic and is facing a 40 percent drop in valuation. Monzo’s recent fundraising round, if the bank takes it, would end up valuing it at £1.25 billion, a drop from the £2 billion where it previously sat.

The company planned to close funding around £70 million to £80 million as a bid to help it get through the fiscal turmoil of the pandemic, which should work to see Monzo through to the second half of 2021 as investors remain uncertain.

Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield is planning to forego his salary for a year, and senior staffers will take pay cuts, to further save funds.

Monzo’s situation isn’t unique. Although his company is doing well enough to survive, Meir said it would be pointless to try and raise funds now as it would be, essentially, selling for a bargain while the market isn’t strong. Other companies who are in a weak spot will have a rougher go, Meir said.

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