Sand Hill Road’s doomsayer-in-chief—Sequoia Capital—is back with a warning to its startup founders: Don’t expect a recovery from the current market downturn to happen quickly.
Over the years, Sequoia, the venture firm behind Google, Apple and Airbnb, has developed a reputation as the tech industry’s Cassandra, through memos and presentations that it shared with the leaders of its portfolio companies during past macroeconomic crises. In 2008, that took the form of a 56-slide survival guide to the Great Recession, entitled “R.I.P. Good Times.” In early 2020, as the pandemic began upending the economy, Sequoia sent its founders a grim memo entitled, “Coronavirus: The Black Swan of 2020.”
Its latest warning to its portfolio companies takes the form of a 52-slide presentation, a copy of which was viewed by The Information. Sequoia described the current combination of turbulent financial markets, inflation and geopolitical conflict as a “crucible moment” of uncertainty and change. Sequoia told founders not to expect a speedy economic bounceback akin to what followed the start of the pandemic because, it warned, the monetary and fiscal policy tools that propelled that recovery “have been exhausted.” The firm suggested founders move fast to extend runway and to fully examine the business for excess costs. “Don’t view [cuts] as a negative, but as a way to conserve cash and run faster,” they wrote. [Read the full presentation below.]