Death of the Unicorn and Rise of the Rabbit
Recently, I was sent an article about the "Winter in the Valley" (see the ZeroHedge.com article here.) and the slow-down of VC funding in Silicon Valley. The much trumpeted: "Death of the Unicorn."
I say: Rest in Peace dear Unicorns. I will catch you on the flip side, in the land of magic and dreams.
Why? Why as the founder of a new game company, whose core product is technology based, would I say this?
Because instead I say, bring on the rise of the
Real Actual Business Building InterestingTechnology.
(good article on Rabbits by Business Insider, here. Thanks to Stuart Feffer of Reality Analytics for first sharing)
I believe my company is a Rabbit, and we represent the type of company and product that I hope we see more of in the funding universe. We have seen a run of companies with very high initial funding raises - $20M+ and outsized valuations as a result. This is unrealistic for a lot of reasons. It puts the focus of the investors AND the founders on the wrong goals and metrics and has everyone chasing unrealistic results. Modest investments can still produce solid, and even aggressive returns, in the hands of the right team in the right space, with the right product at the right time. In that sentence, 3 of the 4 can be controlled and the 4th, with experience and patience, can be found.
Second, I fully believe the underlying premise of the venture capital funding model as a vehicle to spark innovation and add value to our economy is solid. I don’t feel that model is under threat, rather the outsize deals we have seen in recent years are being rethought. Great. I hope scrutiny falls closely upon founders and the lasting value new businesses seek to add and create. Because I feel both I, VONK and our team are up to the challenge. I’ve seen a lot of young and inexperienced CEOs with “sexy” products (see Dating Apps) get funding relatively easily. I feel as a woman over 40, and a mom, I have struggled to fit into the model that investors feel a tech CEO should follow. For the record, no, I am not having more children. And yes, I am capable of running a company and also being a great mom. And, I can run in heels.
Third, I believe the pace of technological innovation and adoption is only accelerating. That means that there are opportunities to be found and capitalized upon. The right-sizing of the funding environment can definitely make fundraising harder and force investors to look more closely at the products, business models and teams asking for capital. If that scares people, then either they don’t believe in themselves or their products enough, and perhaps then they shouldn’t be an entrepreneur.
Finally, I hope this environment opens the door for not only women founders in a new way, but also companies with solid technology and lasting value propositions. Whether or not the world needs another on-line shopping site is open for debate, but I can promise you we have not seen the end of the great things we can create and bring into our lives with technology.