A version of this article originally appeared in El Mercurio, one of Chile’s largest newspapers with the title Valorizaciones de startups en EE.UU. y su efecto en Chile. I write a monthly columns with the goal of helping Chileans understand what’s going on in the US startup market.
Many people have been talking about the “third tech bubble” in the US, including many investors like Mark Suster, Bill Gurley and Fred Wilson. At least up until now, the bubble’s been deflating, and hasn’t crashed. “Unicorns” have been the most strongly affected, but all startups are are affected when the most successful VC backed and public companies lose value.
VCs make the vast majority of their money by investing so that they can either sell their shares in the company in an acquisition, or currently less commonly, when the company goes public. If valuations for the “best” startups go down, the upper limit for startups that haven’t gotten to “the pay window” yet go down, at least in the short term. These startups then have to adjust their valuations lower at each step down the chain, as VCs are not as likely to pay high valuations of their ultimate upside looks to be lower, at least in the short to medium term.