Hello it’s Danny Crichton again. I last sent out an email to my personal newsletter list on December 30th — a lot has changed hasn’t it? This is your weekly-but-really-comes-quarterly email from me about what I have been thinking and writing about.
Hopefully you all remember signing up (it’s double opt-in to avoid spam), but if not, feel free to unsubscribe in the email footer below (I won’t be offended). As always, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So how are we doing?
Hopefully, all of you are fine. I am doing well, and very thankful to be at a workplace like TechCrunch that has been working-from-home for the better part of a decade. We are hunkered down here in Brooklyn, eating some great food thanks to Chaeha, and otherwise weathering the storm so far in good shape. Hopefully all of you are finding ways to cope, and feel free to reach out if I can ever be helpful in these troubling and dynamic times.
So like everyone, I have mandatorily become an expert on the novel coronavirus, which really just means I relay bad thoughts from people who probably shouldn’t be speaking out loud.
TechCrunch has written more than 250 articles on coronavirus since the pandemic started, and I have personally written seven of those. Three of those were more feature pieces, including a recap of what the last 90 days have looked like in the financial markets, and two in-depth perspectives (linked below) on what it is like to fundraise now in the Valley given the situation.
Everything is changing all the time, and it’s amazing to see how fast stories just completely expire. But not all advice does, and I’d like to pull a quote from my article on how to think through the next few months and maybe even years given what we know today:
In short then, the novel coronavirus is adding huge ambiguity to the futures of a lot of startups. But ambiguity is what founders navigate, literally every single day. This issue, like every other issue that comes up in the activities of building a company, is no different. Ask for advice from other founders and advisers. Listen to the feedback people tell you. Get creative about how to connect with new folks as quarantines and lockdowns persist. Husband your capital, but realize that now might be a moment of growth rather than merely stagnation.
Do what you can with what you have. That’s all you can ever be expected to do.
- Clobbered by coronavirus econ news? Here’s an in-depth, 90-day rewind
- The dollars and cents of raising VC during the coronavirus pandemic
- What we’re getting right and wrong about coronavirus and VC investing
I was a trendsetter and launched a stay-at-home book club weeks before anyone cared about stay-at-home book clubs (that’s my VC bet for the year).
We read Ted Chiang’s Exhalation, a science fiction collection of nine short stories that covered everything from climate change, to the connections between all of us, to how the future of humanity will develop. Given the pandemic situation, some of the themes of this book will particularly resonate if you read it now.
I wrote up analyses of each of the stories for TechCrunch, and had a nice dialogue with some readers about the messages inscribed in these works. This was a huge undertaking personally for me (14,000 words+ of ultimate text) but it was great to intensely read some great pieces of literature.
- Join us for the TechCrunch 2020 book club, starting next week
- Reading Ted Chiang’s The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate
- Can a time machine offer us the meaning of life?
- What is our meaning in life in a world of technology?
- Can we debate free will versus destiny in four pages?
- With the development of generalized AI, what’s the meaning of a person?
- How do we connect a child to technology?
- With better recall of our photos and videos, will our ability to forgive disappear?
- Why you can’t overlook the small details in the pursuit of innovation
- What is the purpose of belief in a world of innovation?
- If we could see alternate realities, would we want to take a look?
The changing VC landscape
I wrote a bunch in the last quarter about how the VC landscape is changing this year, even before the pandemic started. VCs are getting tired, there are just too many of them, seed capital is breaking up into multiple stages, and liquidity is getting really, really hard to find. Now with the pandemic, it will be interesting to see how these fundamentals change (my guess is actually not much, but let’s see).
I’ll pull this quote which amuses me in retrospective:
Lack of bandwidth, hyper-velocity, a pittance of sleep — all of these are intensifying the sensitivity of VC returns. Email a VC an hour before or after and it may well change the result of a fundraise. VCs once had a reputation for plodding and slow deliberation. That old normal is definitely dead right now, and in its place is a new, modern VC who is going to determine millions of dollars in a few minutes on a jet fuel of caffeine and ambition.
My how times have changed. Now VCs are tired, but not writing checks.
- VCs are just tired
- The six strategic stages of seed fundraising in 2020
- Startup malaise, startup ambition
- DocSend’s new pre-seed data shows how many founders you should have and how many investors you should meet
Since my TechCrunch colleague Kate Clark left for The Information, I have been filling in as a co-host of our venture capital podcast Equity with Alex Wilhelm. There has just been so much going on that we’ve been talking about, including the complete collapse of the IPO markets, the strange tale of a VC firm who just handed over tens of millions of dollars — for free — to a startup, and a bunch of new fundraises. If you haven’t listened recently, definitely catch up.
Here’s the last three months worth of episodes:
- Lucky coffee, unicorn stumbles and Sam Altman’s YC wager
- We’ve gone Plaid #
- Why Front’s Series C matters, the latest on Lambda and The Athletic makes media look good
- How to blow through capital at an incredible rate
- Why is One Medical worth more than Casper?
- Big meditation money, new VC funds, and how do you value Airbnb?
- Equity Shot: What’s going on with Tesla’s stock price?
- Equity is not always the answer
- Coronavirus corrections and the rise of remote work
- Equity Shot: What’s Elliott Management and why is it coming after Twitter and SoftBank?
- Kleiner’s new fund, Atrium is kaput and the latest data on seed rounds
- Raising money in a bear market, and what happened with Sequoia and Finix?
- Raising in a recession
Photo by Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit used under Creative Commons