One of the dynamics of going away for a month off the grid is that you come back to a wall of data. I’ve been absorbing it the past two days and it’s fascinating to ponder how my brain is processing it versus the normal continuous flow of information on a real-time basis.
I’m not a predictor. As we enter the time of year where every media-related thingy publishes it’s “best of 2014” and “predictions for 2015” lists, I simply pass on participating in all of them and read none of them. So – I’ll start with that – this is not a prediction, rather it’s a hypothesis, which is as long as there isn’t a cataclysmic macro event, Q115 financing activity is going to be insane.
The number of large, “later stage” financings are remarkable – both in size and velocity. We had several close last month and have some more in process. The number of companies I’ve heard of (mostly outside our portfolio) who are “getting ready to raise money in Q1” is a very long list. I’d noticed this before I went away, but the wall of data that I came back to reinforced it in a way I hadn’t completely processed.
The deals tend to fall into two categories – easy and immediate, which multiple bidders generating an rapidly escalating valuation or a long slow slog through lots of “almost there but we are passing because of some arbitrary reason.” If you translate the passes into english, they seem to fall into one of three categories.
- You aren’t growing fast enough. If you are less than 100% year over year growth or have declining year over year growth rate you are likely in this category.
- We are worried about some exogenous thing you can’t control or influence.
- There is some characteristic about your business we don’t like.
At some level, these are obvious reasons. But they are often extremely frustrating to strong, mid and later stage companies growing 25%+ year over year. They are maddening to mature CEOs who have built real companies that dominate their market segment but are in either an out of favor segment or using an approach (e.g. enterprise software license sales) that is no longer trendy.
In our world, none of this matters that much to us. We aren’t momentum investors. We are syndication agnostic and are happy to continue to finance strong, later stage companies in our portfolio with or without new co-investors. We are transparent with our financing intensions early in the process. We are happy to support whatever process an entrepreneur wants to go through.
Regardless, it feels like it’s going to be an insanely busy Q115.