EP178: The Salvage Yard - A Hidden Gem of Silicon Valley
In this episode, Chris and Corey discuss the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and its potential impact on the startup ecosystem and the broader economy. Chris explains that the venture capital industry is important for occasionally making an important company, but most of what Silicon Valley funds is R&D for unnamed corporate investors. He thinks debt will become more popular in the future because it has advantages for both parties, and he expects debt to be democratized more. They guys also discuss how the innovation economy depends on innovations that diffuse through the economy through various means and how the VC industry operates as a salvage yard for VCs in advance of failure. Finally, Corey and Chris predict that debt will become more popular and democratized in the future as more debt players come in to help companies and the pure equity games become trickier to play. Join us for this episode, "The Salvage Yard: A Hidden Gem of Silicon Valley."
We knew one thing for sure. The first time interest rates were raised by the Fed, the tech economy was going to lose a big chunk of its value. And when you lose a big chunk of value fast, more value goes out immediately because of the fear that all the value is going to go out, it's going to zero. So as soon as the Fed raised interest rates, the entire world of tech, which is predicated on zero interest rates, the valuations as a multiple of revenue went down, how far should it have gone down? Who knows, right? But it went down 70% or something. So Silicon Valley Bank as an example, it's customers suddenly lost 70% of their value in 24 hours. And that was predictable. That was completely predictable. So that effect had nothing to do with inflation, because what Silicon Valley companies charge for their products is not relevant in the economy.
Trust. It doesn't cause anybody to have to pay more for a grapefruit. It just doesn't. So there's this tight coupling within Silicon Valley of the companies and how they're correlated. There's this centrality of mechanism. It's kind of like, why have two banks when you can have one? Sure, sure. PCs don't like variety. So who wants variety? Let's just, then there was even more correlation and coupling. Oh, wealth management. We'll do that for you, right? We'll give you your line of credit. We'll, all this good stuff, right? We'll value your company. One of the big deals in the world of tech is a 4 0 9 a valuation. That's right. That thing's used, done once a year, probably takes some amount of time and they charge some large amount of money for it. It's become an industrial process and it allows you to set the most important thing about a company's compensation in Silicon Valley.
The strike price of your employee's stock options. That's right. That's right. Okay. So with Silicon Valley bag involved in that, sure. Bought a company that does that, put the brand on it and the way they went. So they're doing all this stuff. So I look at it like this. There was a center of correlation in tech called Silicon Valley Bank because the money from the checks that were written to these, I still think younger and less experienced than might have been ideal as cash managers, since that's not their job. Their main job is growth at all costs, right? Your job, Corey, grow as fast as you can, by the way. Manage the cash really well. Yeah. What does that mean? Let's get the highest interest rate for it. Why? Well, it sounds good, right? I don't know. My mom said to do that or something like that.
Is it really a great idea to get the highest interest rate? Yeah, probably not. Probably not. Interest rates and risk always go in the opposite direction. And if your upside is in your growth, you shouldn't be trying to get more upside from this little bit of money kind of nutty. If that was a great thing to do with money, they shouldn't have given it to you in the first place. I mean, that's crazy, right? Let's invest in a company so they can put the money in the bank and see how fast they can grow it as kind of a weird idea. Put the money in the bank yourself if you wanted to do it. So we have a centrality of correlation in a part of the economy that is non-linearly hypersensitive to interest rate changes. And in specific the change from zero to some other number that's positive. It doesn't matter what that number is. Quarter point, half point doesn't really make any difference because the valuations are predicated on not being able to make any money with your money. So at least these things in a portfolio will make you something and they'll make you lot actually. So suddenly there's a hurdle that shows up. That's right. And the hurdle runs now forever and it cuts the legs out from the entire evaluation system, which happened in a day.
Well, let's ask it right now. Okay. So what are the probable consequences for the, let's ask about the broader economy. Economy of the collapse of svb. Okay, let's see what we get. You could do episode after episodes, just reading what says, okay, so it talks about S V B and it says, well, SVP plays an important role in the startup ecosystem. Its collapse would not necessarily have widespread consequences for the broader economy. However, there are a few potential ways in which the collapse of S V B could impact the economy. By the way, anybody who doesn't think that chat, G P t, writes like an angel doesn't know anything about writing. So one loss of financing for startups if SVB were to collapse. By the way, chat, G P T doesn't know that S VB has collapsed even though Very
September, 2021. If S V B were to collapse, it would likely result in a loss of financing for startups and other high growth companies that rely on the bank services. This could make it more difficult for these companies to grow and innovate, which could have a negative effect, effect on the overall economy over the long term. That's worth paying attention to, right? Two, disruption to the startup ecosystem. SVB is an important player in the startup ecosystem providing not just financing, but also mentorship and other services to help startups succeed. That's interesting. If SVB were to collapse, it could lead to a disruption in the startup ecosystem, potentially causing a ripple effect that could impact other players in the industry. Three potential loss of jobs. If SVB were to collapse, you could result in the loss of jobs for the bank's employees as well as for the employees of the startups and other companies that rely on the bank's financing and services. While this would not necessarily have a significant impact on the broader economy, it could be devastating for the individuals and communities affected. So that's what CH G P T has to say on that subject.
These are interesting times. I'll give you a personal view. I have always, not always, ever since my first funded startup, I have felt that the venture world, how venture capital works is incredibly important for occasionally making an important company. The flow rate of important companies that come out of that system is pretty low. Maybe, I don't know, three a year, two a year.
Run it for 30 years and you get 60 important companies and then you get a bunch of other stuff that's going on. What is the other stuff? The other stuff is actually, and I've always made this claim and I'll make it right now, most of what Silicon Valley funds is r and d for unnamed corporate investors. That's just what it is. Because if you look at the innovators dilemma, the problem is that if you are a successful large corporate, you are structurally no longer able to innovate. And it has to do with the fact that whoever controls the p and l of your most successful product will psychologically, they can't resist it. They will crush all attempts to innovate in ways that cause that product to be less relevant in the marketplace. They will not sacrifice their bonus for the company's future.
It never happens. It will never happen. And people who think it should happen should probably pay attention to the fact that it won't happen. Just get over it. The late great professor Clayton Christensen wrote a book that everybody in business should read and understand, and it basically says you're kind of toast when it comes to innovating once you get successful. Okay, so now what are you going to do? Well, he recommends that you spin off stuff to start things and so forth. But actually what really happens, what really happens is you go to the supermarket called they didn't quite make it Silicon Valley companies. And you take comfort in the fact that the documents that govern those companies read like salvage plans for the VCs. Read one sometime and ask yourself of each word in that document, who is this for? And what does it anticipate? Who it's for? The guy's writing the checks, what does it anticipate? Failure. Got it. Beautiful.
So this is exactly there. Yes. So even though the book's watered down a little bit, because chapter wasn't given us a chance, but this is the key, is that the innovation economy itself doesn't depend on successful Silicon Valley companies. Yeah.
It depends on innovations that diffuse through the economy through various means. So if you think about it, why should an innovation result in the company? It actually makes no sense. Everything worth making should be a company. It's a non-sequitur. It makes no sense. Every worth making should get in the market in a way that allows it to be used in useful ways to reach its potential, but should be a company that's just craziness. And the VCs recognize this by setting up their businesses as salvage yards in advance of failure, and they push the companies to go big because the 60 or so that you're going to get out of 20 to 30 years of this all went big or go away, give us our time back. Because being on the board of a company, that's the living dead.
Yep. Want that. Right? So that's really going on. So it's really valuable what was happening. It's just people we're not comfortable with the idea that jobs could go away because a company goes away. And we probably shouldn't be comfortable with that idea cause it's very discontinuous. We probably shouldn't write checks. I don't care if they're 35 years old. If I'm running a company, why do I need a 10 million check to be written to me? I just need the money to run the company.
So why do I have to do the cash management? How am I adding value by taking that check? Well, it's because we use this system called equity in order for somebody to have interest in a company that includes upside. Otherwise, we wouldn't do it like this. We haven't thought of a better way to do so. Anyway, these are my thoughts on this subject as I
Do. No, this has been a great episode, a very timely episode. Chris, it's great that we had Ryan on there. We're going to get Ryan on there again. And we'd also love to have Robert Vera from the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on his opinion too, since he's on the front lines of working with a lot of these startup companies that are at the nacient stage of funding. And they're at these multiple crossroads here, again, of revenue and debt and equity in which path indeed should they choose. So great stuff as always. Chris, I think we have our naus series is continuing of our market dominance guys, collateral a book. And any final thoughts here on this? We're going to listen to this episode like we did in our COVID episodes a couple years from now. So if I crack this episode a few years from now, what is the landscape does it look like after this little ripple in the markets?
Well, I think the very next thing that's going to happen, and it's already happening today, we're only five days into this or whatever, is that debt is going to become popular because there's a lot more folks who play a debt role to help companies then can sensibly play an equity role. Debt has huge advantages for both parties if done, and I think you're going to see, I'll call it non venture debt or debt as venture. I really like what Ryan's company is doing. I've spoken with them about maybe working with them. So smaller chunk sizes, they get you to be a little bit more cautious. Cycle time being shorter. I mean, equity has a cycle time on it. You want to see those T-bills as long equity is forever.
Yeah. And I mean there's been a leapfrogging by that. So I expect debt will become popular. Debt is something that will happen in a much more, I'll call it be democratized more. You're going to have a lot more debt Players are going to come in and try to help companies and it's going to be a little trickier to play the pure equity games that are played with the pedal to the metal stuff. It'll come back, but it's a little bit trickier. It's not like Silicon Valley VCs, they're not going to run out of money. I mean, good god, right? Pension funds and others have got to put their risk money somewhere. Sure. Sure. But I think that's one of the things that's going to happen. I don't think you're going to see a big change. In a way, it's one of these things that if you're running a company and you're highly tied up with svb, then thank goodness for you, you didn't have to leave your money behind. At least you get your cash back. But it creates opportunities for all the other places that cash could go. And some of that cash actually could go to servicing modest amounts of debt.
Yeah, I think that that's stead on. And you and I and our teams we're bigoted towards the revenue side and some of those metrics to track, especially comparison to what both connected cell and Branch 49 could do to organizations versus what we saw from the great Trish Peruzzi on what the landscape looks like. You do have to innovate or die because those numbers in the traditional S D R world just do not sustain any long-term growth. And your attrition alone will cost you because no one's going to want to do anything except put a gun in their mouth with those type of activity numbers. So I see it. Well, Chris, another great episode for the market dominant guys and Chris Beal. This is Corey Frank at Till Next Time.
Oh, it's a train wreck. And they're, you can see why these companies lay off hundreds or thousands of folks with minimal impact except to the p and l. They don't suffer from sales. They don't have, besides meta who does a one-time drawdown of 2.4 billion. But I don't think a sales force necessarily is going to suffer proportionate to how many people they cut their sales are, they're going to decrease, their sales are still going to be relatively strong. And they just had a hiring bloat and productivity point here,
Right? Well, they were speculating that people were capital. That was the speculation is that you could pile up people in the same way that you can pile up money in a bank. It's like meta, apparently they hire, this is the word on the street anyway, is they hired a lot of people who then just said, I don't have a job, but I have no work to do, but I have a job, I guess is the point. And when you look at that, and we've seen that before. I got hired by Martin Marietta back in 1980, and they didn't have any work for me to do. They just hired me because they needed engineers. Corey and I are just having a chat after the podcast. Hi, Helen, Sean. Oh, I want to hear about this before I have my next copy. Oh, I do too. Yeah.
Well, Chris, all these good stuff. Yeah, book looks good. Are you sending these? I just ordered a bunch of 'em and I've been sending them to clients just with a little hello, et cetera. So I know it's an expensive thing to do.
Yeah, I prefer the stop, but still, I think it's something that, and we've been promoting it. I just think it's a great credibility thing. It's long overdue. And I really think that every few months there should be another one released market dominance. And we could have whatever the theme is, it could be on go to market, it could be on metrics, it could be on whatever. And if we edit these here as they go forth and have a little compendium, a little series. So when we're on Jeb Blunt next time, you can have your stack of books next to Jeb Stack of books, and
I can make 'em faster than him now. That's right. I'm like, I once saw a fascinating show on TV very late one night. It was, I don't know what, probably an e s, ESPN N. This is a long time ago. It's like 1985. And it was illuminating. And I think that's just, we could get that situation with the book. So here it was, they put a family sedan, it's like a Ford Taurus on a Formula one course, and they gave it a headstart. And when it was halfway around the course, they unleashed this Porsche sports car, right? Very fast sports car. These all had professional drivers, all top champion drivers. And then when that car had caught the first car, which is now three quarters of the way around the course, they unleashed a McLaren Turbo Formula one car, and it beat 'em both.
Yeah, it was. And they're doing this whole thing from a helicopter. So you're watching it just going, and I quote, no fucking way. Right? It's like, come on, they're almost done. And then this Formula one car goes,
So I believe we now have the Formula One car of book publishing, because we spent on this almost all the time in formatting and in dealing with the experimental nature of the first summarizations. I can have all of that done by people who literally, I could have Galen write one of these a week. Wow.
There is enough content and there's enough themes, and we could make it better. Galen's become a very good prompt engineer. So he's, he's got stuff like, give me a chart of blah, blah, blah, whatever it is. What are all the titles that are used by these companies when they're selling? What are the Yeah,
No, I love that we're using that on the data side. That was a great tip for Josh, by the way, if you talk with James in the near future, just give him a little nudge that we're trying to get some time with him. So
Getting the, let's face it. Connect and sell has been waiting for a downturn for a long time. We were built for one, we never knew it would come attractively packaged first as a global pandemic, and then as a banking crisis in tech. This is the ideal for us. You could not have written this book better for us. This,
There you go. Okay, so you got all four of you guys. All right. Well, maybe it's you. Perfect. Maybe it's you. Yeah, I'm writing the, the burrow, the borough just behind me trying to keep trying to keep up.
So why do we have so few great customers? Well, we have the desperate s a p Concur, totally desperate. They were like, how are you going to grow from 400 million to 1,000,000,004 years when it took you 22 years to get to 400 million? Right. One desperate person, crystal Beamon. And we're still there. I just did an $865,000 deal with them yesterday.
Yeah, I mean that, I did the deal a while ago. It's actually a million dollar deal, but they had some credits coming into the year, so it's $865,000 dealer. So they're desperate. I don't mean they're not smart, by the way. They are smart. But they were smart enough to take their desperation and took a flyer on my first offer to them, which was, Hey, why don't we do this instead of you hiring 400 people. So when you put it like that, it's less absurd. It's like you can't hire 400 people. Right? Then you have the really smart fisher, and Fisher is so smart. They're one of the smartest companies. I've never seen people like this organized into a company. Smart, disciplined, determined, amazing. And so the, there's that. But that's kind of all we got is those kinds. And we have a few, Intuit, super smart Intuit set, 772 meetings yesterday. I mean, that's smart. These are smart.
Well then we have the flow through. We have those that want try it, and some of them are super smart. They'll come out of connect and sell RingCentral. Kyle Green used to be an sdr, now he's a vp. We should have him on, by the way, how many SDRs become vice presidents public companies in a short period of time? He was an sdr. We hired him after I became c e O. He now is the vice President of Global Sales Development over at RingCentral. Wow.
Janie. Janie Wall, one of our customer success people is now off as vice president of Defense Storm. So I mean, these people are like, they come up through the process and they get it cause they're inside of it. But it's not like this is a tough business for a bunch of reasons. And the main reason is nobody can do the math. They can't make the math stick. Even if you do the math form like Ryan does all the time, it doesn't make the math stick. Right. It's much easier to believe in almost anything to believe that there's noms out in my yard that make the waterfall go. It's easier to believe that than to believe this math.