The venture capital market could be seeing a shift in power dynamics away from founders and more toward investors, data indicates.
The information, collected by DocSend, a service that founders often use to send information about their startups to investors, indicates that after a hot start in the year, investor interest is declining, leading to what could be the start of a sea change in private-market dynamics.
For most of the last decade, the venture capital market has been more founder-friendly than not, a trend that seemed to peak in 2021 when a confluence of private capital and a hot public market made for a rich fundraising landscape for startups. Founders were able to raise successive rounds quickly, often at attractive terms, and at times with slim due diligence.
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Fear of missing out on hot deals weighed more heavily on the minds of some capital allocators than concerns about valuations, governance rights, and other investment terms. It was a frantic period, leading to some companies raising capital at price levels that are now causing some headaches among unicorns and other late-stage startups.
A material change in how founder-friendly the venture capital community is would upend the startup fundraising game, moving the balance of power away from those building more toward those investing. For those familiar with venture investment during recessions that last more than a few weeks, such a correction would merely be another swing of the power pendulum that Silicon Valley has long endured between VCs and startups.
For founders only accustomed to having in-market clout above historical norms, such a shift could be a shock.
Let’s examine Q1 data from DocSend (which Dropobox bought back in 2021), and see what we can glean about how startups and the venture industry are changing.