Public optimism doesn’t convert to checks, founders report

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

How quickly our world has changed. In late February, TechCrunch covered the news that TripActions, a unicorn four times over, had secured a $500 million credit line to help it scale its corporate travel-focused business; however, it became known yesterday that TripActions is undergoing stiff layoffs after the corporate travel market transformed from growing to moribund in light of the global outbreak of COVID-19.

Many aspects of the public market are now different: public companies are pulling guidance; the Olympics is postponed; domestic life has been overturned by lockdowns and social distancing recommendations; and at the heart of what this publication covers, the venture capital scene has changed as well — not that you could tell from reading Twitter, mind. VCs love to tweet that they are still writing checks, and in some cases, it’s even true.

Inside the investor community, however, there’s some calling bullshit on the idea that the venture capital market is matching anything like its prior pace of business. Here’s Gil Debner from Angular Ventures:

And fintech angel Sheel Mohnot:

Founders are feeling the pinch. To better understand what the fundraising market is like for entrepreneurs today, TechCrunch asked founders to write in with fundraising stories. Below, we’ve compiled a fair number.

Many people asked to remain anonymous so most anecdotes are shielded. Normally, I wouldn’t grant such broad protections. But we’re all learning together, and I’m not after any particular point, so we can be generous. (Write in if you have your own story, and we may include it in a future piece.)

Deals and dreams

What founders sent in ran the gamut, but mostly fell into two camps:

  1. Deals were kaput and few (if any) investors are writing checks.
  2. While the investing market had slowed, it was still moving some, if only a little.

As a final programming note, I’ve mostly kept original formatting from the notes that were sent in; in some cases, very light edits have been made.

Deals are dead