Is the tech startup market cratering, or is all the hand-wringing much ado about nothing?
Apparently even those closest to the action can’t seem to agree.
Venture capitalists, startup executives, and industry analysts got into a public Twitter spat on Tuesday after a new report said that overall VC deal volume and capital deployment were both up during the first two months of 2016.
That report, which was published by industry research firm Mattermark, was quickly seized upon by some industry insiders as evidence that the much-feared tech downturn was not quite the catastrophe-in-the-making it’s been made out to be. That in turn, drew fire from others.
Here are the headline findings, shared by Mattermark CEO Danielle Morrill:
Box’s head of strategy and corp dev Villi Iltchev weighed in:
That prompted a quick response from Keith Rabois, a partner at VC firm Khosla Ventures and the former COO of digital payments company Square:
There’s been plenty of anecdotal evidence of trouble in the tech industry in recent months, from Fidelity’s write-downs of its holdings in hot private companies such as Snapchat and Zenefits, to the layoffs and outright shut-downs of other startups.
Whether these are isolated incidents or part of a broader trend remains unclear, and the issue is clearly a contentious one.
Josh Elman, another valley VC who has worked at Facebook and Twitter, pointed out that the 2016 investments included in Mattermark’s data may have been announced recently, but were actually struck much earlier.
Meanwhile, Rabois’ comments on the topic quickly turned into a dispute with Mattermark over the quality of the data:
At one point Rabois even tried to make his case by appearing to argue that he was basically infallible:
The Twitter debate may not have settled much about the current state of the tech industry, but it highlighted the level of uncertainty even within the industry itself.
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