Data indicates that: the pace of value creation for startups peaked in 2021. According to venture capital data collected by PitchBook, prices for startup stocks rose across the maturity spectrum last year. The result of those soaring prices was a huge gain in the rate at which paper wealth was generated.
The increasing rate of value creation may indicate that rich entry-level prices for early start-up investments will materialize, as similar price dynamics play out in the later stage of business development.
PitchBook cites the rising influx of non-traditional capital into the startup market as part of the changing landscape for startup prices and the pace at which they create illiquid stock value. Larger venture capital funds are also driving the price dynamics revealed by the data.
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The dynamics of rising prices that accelerate value creation all at once undermine the view that startups are too expensive today – expensive start-ups seem to have no trouble raising capital at a later stage, if markups are an indication of investor interest for recently funded early stage starters. In simpler terms, it seems that the market has decided that startups are worth more than they once were, materially multiple.
This begs a simple question: Have startups been dramatically undervalued in previous years and decades? The first, yes. That last one maybe.
Reservations galore. Beneath the surge of capital that has poured into startups in recent years — and especially the burst year 2021 for private market investment — any exit prices are expected to positively impact previous investment for startup stocks. There is some concern in the market today that this will not be the case.
We’re not here to throw bricks, but to find out why startup prices have soared and whether the huge gains are fair, insane, or more of a sign of a changing software market.
Up and to the right
A few business principles to get us started: any deal a venture capitalist invests in is reasonably priced; any deal a venture capitalist attempts but loses is too expensive; each subsequent investment in a venture investor’s portfolio company is a reasonable mark-up for value created.
When we apply those rules to the following charts, we can draw some very interesting conclusions: