The Big Read: The Master of Destruction Rides AgainRead more

Cover art and portraits by Clark Miller
Cover art and portraits by Clark Miller

The Instant Oral History of the Silicon Valley Bank Collapse

Two dozen bank insiders, startup founders, and venture investors reconstruct 96 hours that everyone in tech will remember, even if they’d like to forget.

Cover art and portraits by Clark Miller
March 17, 2023 11:26 AM PDT

On a cosmic level, the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank was a mere blip. The murmurs about trouble began last Wednesday, the panic spread via group texts and Twitter threads on Thursday, the bank went under on Friday, the government got its act together on Saturday, and on Sunday every current and former customer of SVB could breathe a cautious sigh of relief. The worst of the crisis had seemingly passed, like a Category 5 hurricane that miraculously veered back out to sea.

On a human level, though, those five days were an emotional maelstrom. Billions of dollars madly traded hands as people sought safe harbor. Blood pressures skyrocketed. Sleep became a luxury. Relationships were solidified—and broken. For most people in Silicon Valley—as well as small business owners, nonprofit directors and other SVB customers around the globe—the collapse left deep and lasting wounds.

To fully capture the cinematic speed and scale of events and to take stock of the lessons left behind, The Information spoke to two dozen people directly affected—including founders who banked with SVB, fintech CEOs whose companies profited from the upheaval, venture capitalists who acted as both arsonists and firefighters, and an SVB employee who watched everything unravel from the inside.

These are their stories in their words.

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