On November 15, 2022, a staggering 14 million people flocked to Ticketmaster with the hope of securing a ticket for Taylor Swift’s Eras Concert (Revell, 2022). It was a scene of chaos, with thousands of fans eagerly waiting in line, all competing for the limited number of tickets up for grabs. With such high demand, it was no surprise that many fans were left empty-handed, causing frustration and anger among thousands of Swifties. Even Taylor Swift herself expressed her apologies for the situation. It was clear that the demand for the tickets was far greater than the available inventory, leaving many fans disappointed.
This situation was no different from the current state of venture capital, where VCs and limited partners have a surplus of dry powder to deploy, but founders are struggling to secure funding. The total ask for venture funding has already surpassed the undeployed but committed capital that VCs have available. The reason founders think their ventures are unicorns worthy of VC attention, support, and money is that, until recently, they were right. 2021 saw more capital invested in VC than ever before, and more mega VC deals were closed unparalleled. However, things have taken a turn, as funding to Silicon Valley startups fell 40% from 2021 through 2022, and this downtrend is not slowing (Bradbury, 2023).
Just as Taylor Swift’s fans were disappointed when they couldn’t get their hands on concert tickets, many founders are discouraged by the lack of available funding. However, VCs are now in a prime position to help founders by investing in them in ways beyond writing checks. In the case of Taylor Swift’s concert, fans who didn’t get tickets could still follow her music, attend other concerts, and support her in various ways. Similarly, VCs can offer support to founders even when funding is tight. By carving out a few hours each week to coach founders, VCs can make an impactful investment. They can coach founders one-on-one, host group forums, or even invite them as guest speakers on entrepreneurship podcasts or events. Spending time with founders is still an impactful investment that can provide valuable insights and advice (McKee, 2023).
When supporting and advising promising startup owners, VCs can make them more likely to rise from the founder-harsh conditions of 2023. Like Taylor Swift fans who eventually got to attend her concerts or meet her, founders receiving support from VCs are more likely to give them first dibs when the markets are more founder-friendly again. The returns will appear when those founders remember the help they received and repay the investment in kind, benefiting both parties in the long run.
The situation with Taylor Swift’s concert and the current state of VC both illustrate the fundamental principles of supply and demand. Just as fans wanted more Taylor Swift tickets than were available, founders are demanding more venture dollars than is currently accessible. This demand has led to a disconnect between the capital that startups are seeking and the money VC firms are actually investing. However, similar to how Taylor Swift fans could find other ways to support her even if they did not get concert tickets, VCs can still invest in founders through alternative means.
In conclusion, the situation with Taylor Swift’s Eras Concert serves as a metaphor for the current state of VC. Just as fans struggled to find tickets, founders are struggling to secure funding. Nonetheless, VCs are in a prime position to help founders by investing in them through channels other than capital. Dedicating time to coaching and advising promising startup owners will give VCs the opportunity to make an impactful investment. Now more than ever, one that will illuminate our path with invaluable insights and empower us with profound guidance.
Bradbury, R. (2023, April 14). US VC trends in 5 charts for Q1 2023. Retrieved May 4, 2023, from https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/venture-capital-monitor-charts-Q1-2023
McKee, C. (2023, March 13). 5 venture capital trends to monitor in 2023. DealCloud. Retrieved May 4, 2023, from https://www.dealcloud.com/2023/03/08/5-venture-capital-trends-2023/
Revell, E. (2022, December 4). Taylor Swift Fans Sue ticketmaster over concert ticket fiasco. Fox Business. Retrieved May 4, 2023, from https://www.foxbusiness.com/entertainment/taylor-swift-fans-sue-ticketmaster-over-concert-ticket-fiasco