While rate hikes are common, we just lived through the fastest tightening cycle in US history. In the aftermath, it has become abundantly clear that ZIRP was the culprit to many sensational dramas. There were so many important lessons we learned in the past year.
- The long game is fair, but the short game is not. Entrepreneurship is most of the time a fair competition, won by those with superior strategy, work ethic and execution. The pandemic and rate hike changed everything. Suddenly the games we played became arbitrary. Victors and losers were crowned not by traditional definitions of merit but based on seemingly random positioning relative to black swan events. But just as quickly as we witnessed their meteoric rise, there was justice in the correction that followed.
- Nothing matters until you sell. As we learned with FTX, WeWork, Bird, Convoy, and many others, it often takes many years to figure out what is real value creation. The sensational headlines have reminded all of us to carry onwards with a healthy dose of cynicism. But don’t believe all the reductionist retrospectives of the past year- some poker hands were played perfectly to a loss.
- Blitzscaling turns out to be a playbook that very few startups need. For years, unicorn chasers pushed founders to achieve high growth at all costs. Valuation pressures created self-reinforcing cycles of blitzscaling. Most startups would benefit by burning less capital, even if that means growing slower in the short term. As round sizes fall back to earth, we’ll see more attention and preference for capital-efficient founders. A smaller team of mission-driven rockstars will run circles around large, bloated companies.
- Hindsight isn’t always 20/20. In avoiding pain, we often make biased decisions based on recent turmoil. This can cause us to pinball our way through our lives and careers, overcorrecting with each inflection point. The courage to stay the course after losing, and the humility to evolve despite winning will be rewarded in the long run.
While the past year brought many hardships to the tech ecosystem, it also forced a healthy reckoning that refocuses us on the meritocratic foundation of innovation. We are excited to carry these lessons forward into the new year as we help rebuild the next generation of innovative startups.