Here Are the Investors Still Writing Checks During the Coronavirus Crisis
Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior reporter, covering venture capital. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks. Follow him on Twitter.
These are scary times for investors and founders. A record bull market, more than a decade of ballooning valuations, and an ever expanding roster of venture capital deals of varying stripes all came to a screeching halt this month as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world and brought the economy to a standstill.
VC deal flow is not like the public markets. One can't turn on CNBC and get an instant gauge of private markets, so it is impossible to know beyond anecdotes how VC activity has been impacted. But one thing many founders want to know is who is still out there writing checks and it seems a lot of people are, at least according to a list compiled by Laurent Grill, lead investor at corporate backed early stage fund, Luma Launch.
"You had founders who are freaking out because their assumption is no one is investing." Grill said. "But investors are investing."
Last week, Grill started emailing hundreds of fellow investors to see if they were still writing checks amidst the pandemic. He was originally trying to find the next round of capital for one his own portfolio companies but decided in the spirit of generosity to broaden his search and posted a query on LinkedIn. It ended up going viral and Grill's inbox was quickly flooded.
"When I posted this, I didn't expect to have 500 notifications," Grill told dot.LA last week. "It's pretty overwhelming because I'm not an influencer."
He has received 275 responses so far and the vast majority say they are still doing deals. (20% asked not to be included on the public list and he also excluded angel investors.)
Grill feels the results from his query are encouraging and he wants to publicize the fact that there are still plenty of opportunities amidst the doom and gloom. He also wants to facilitate the introductions that would normally happen at conferences and in-person meetings.
However, just because most everyone says they are still investing does not mean it is not going be a lot harder to get capital.
He suspects deals have significantly declined, though no one wants to completely shut their doors. There are optics to consider and also the fear of overlooking the next great unicorn. "We live in an industry of FOMO, because if people aren't investing they are worried they are going to miss a deal," Grill said.
725 companies came to Grill that said they are looking for financing and he has now partnered with FounderNest to help manage introductions. Other companies who want to be included should go here and investors who want to be part of the listing should fill out this form.
- L.A. Venture Capital Firm MarsBio Scrambles to Secure Cash ... ›
- Coronavirus Stokes Investor Fears – From Venture Capital to Wall ... ›
- Leading VC Warns Coronavirus is a 'Black Swan' Event - dot.LA ›
- Silicon Valley Is Doing Nearly as Many Deals as Last Year - dot.LA ›
- Investing in Uncertain Times: How VCs and COVID-19 - dot.LA ›
- Investors and Health Tech on the Front Lines of the Pandemic - dot.LA ›
Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.
Minutes into filling out my absentee ballot last week, I was momentarily distracted by my dog Seamus. A moment later, I realized in horror that I was filling in the wrong bubble — accidentally voting "no" on a ballot measure that I meant to vote "yes" on.
It was only a few ink marks, but it was noticeable enough. Trying to fix my mistake, I darkly and fully filled in the correct circle and then, as if testifying to an error on a check, put my initials next to the one I wanted.
Then I worried. As a reporter who has previously covered election security for years, I went on a mini-quest trying to understand how a small mistake can have larger repercussions.
As Los Angeles County's 5.6 million registered voters all receive ballots at home for the first time, I knew my experience could not be unique. But I wondered, would my vote count? Or would my entire ballot now be discarded?
My distractingly sweet dog, Seamus.
Photo by Tami Abdollah
Tech agricultural unicorn Plenty is gearing up to hire 50 full-time employees to run a new vertical farm monitored by robots in Compton.
The farm, which will open in 2021, will grow leafy greens and Driscoll's branded strawberries, showcasing Plenty's indoor hydroponic farming. CEO and co-founder Matt Barnard says it's more efficient than traditional farming, which is weather-sensitive and requires large plots of land.