Art by Clark Miller
Art by Clark Miller

‘If I Miss a Deal, It’s—Whatever’: Venture Investors Throw in the Beach Towel

The out-of-office signs are flapping as VCs jet off on long-delayed holidays. But a breather for investors comes at an inopportune time for founders.

Art by Clark Miller
July 15, 2022 12:00 PM PDT

Jordan Levy joins the Zoom with black sunglasses on his head and a pool umbrella in the background. The 66-year-old Softbank Capital NY managing partner once founded an incubator focused on Buffalo, N.Y.’s startup ecosystem. This summer, though, he’s hanging out with his grandchildren in a different part of the Empire State: Sagaponack, a village in the Hamptons.

And, he tells me, he’s not alone. “I was at the East Hampton Golf Club the other day, and half the VCs I know were there,” Levy said.

After two years of breakneck deal-making, the deal-makers are taking a break. Tech investors are trading foggy San Francisco and sweltering New York City for the beaches and blue skies of France, Italy and Long Island. But there’s more going on than pent-up venture capitalists taking advantage of loosened Covid-19 restrictions—BA.5 variant be damned—to travel, golf or laze around the pool. This summer’s slowdown comes against a backdrop of plunging tech stocks, souring market conditions and a return to the kind of uncertainty investors haven’t seen since at least the 2008 financial crash.

This year, hanging up the proverbial out-of-office sign is also a tidy excuse to sit out a teetering market, as a critical mass of investors ducks the calls of startups whose value might just plunge further. Founders of those startups, in turn, have been left to knock on locked doors and peer into darkened offices.

“People are using the convenience of the summer to say to entrepreneurs, ‘Well, I’m taking some time off,’” Levy said. “I think it’s bullshit.”

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