The venture capital sector has been in a sustained downturn for almost eighteen months. How does this downturn end? Well, it may have already ended, but let’s see about that. We will know for sure in a few quarters.
The NASDAQ peaked at roughly 16,000 in November 2021. By June 2022, it was down 33%. It stayed down for all of 2022 and ended the year at roughly 10,500.
But this year the NASDAQ is up almost 40%.
What is driving this? If I had to pick one thing, I would say inflation and interest rates. Yeah, those are two things but they are tied together in times like this. As I laid out in the prior versions of How This Ends (here and here), I believe post-pandemic inflation forced the Fed to raise rates aggressively, blowing a huge hole in the asset bubble that built up during the pandemic.
Last week we got some great news. Inflation is way down in the US. That means rates may have peaked and will stabilize or possibly come down. I don’t know if the Fed makes any more moves or not. But I am not sure that really matters. What matters most to markets is expectations and I think inflation and interest rate expectations have settled down.
Private capital markets, like venture capital, lag public markets by a few quarters. That is because it takes time for private market investors to react to the public markets. The NASDAQ peaked in Nov 2021, but VC markets did not really start slowing down until the second quarter of 2022.
Now that the NASDAQ has posted a couple of strong quarters, I would expect venture capital to respond. But it won’t happen overnight. We are in the summer doldrums. It takes time for VCs to raise new funds. And deals take months to come together.
So my guess is we are mostly through this downturn. We will know for sure in a couple of quarters.