• xavier1880

Tech conferences Week

Updated: Jun 21

It’s been a busy week with no fewer than three tech conferences hosted last week:

  • VivaTech in Paris

  • London Tech Week

  • CogX Festival in London as well

The list of speakers between the events was extraordinary, from political grandees such as Hillary Clinton, Emmanuel Macron, Rishi Sunak to titans of industry such as Warren East (Rolls Royce) and Nicolas Hieronimus (l’Oreal) to, of course, several tech visionaries such as Evan Spiegel (Snap) or Bret Taylor (Salesforce).

With so many influencers around, what did we learn? Well, in short...

Winter is Coming

Current market conditions dominated off-stage discussions, with most companies aware of recent warnings by VC firms such as Sequoia Capital (here) and Y Combinator (here). On-stage there was relatively little reference to current market conditions, which may be because the agendas were set so far in advance, or because no-one wanted to talk about the elephant in the room…?

VivaTech was the largest of the three events last week. The two talks we found the most interesting were on:

  • Cybersecurity, which we feel remains one of the strongest growth area in tech and will likely be the most insulated from the current downturn given world events. We were however somewhat disappointed that the human aspect of cybersecurity (e.g. phishing attack) was not given a more prominent role as it remains one of the weakest links in the chain. Our favourite company addressing this issue is Cybsafe, who were present at fringe events at the London Tech week.

  • Blockchain. In this discussion chaired by Maurice Levy, Vitalik Buterin (Founder Ethereum) and Changpeng Zhao (Founder Binance), address a very broad set of subjects, from how their companies came about to the future of web 3. It’s an interesting discussion on an intellectual level. We however could not help but notice that Vitalik seemed less than convinced about the future of blockchain as a tool for monetary exchange, and more focused on its other potential applications (privacy, identity, etc).

The London Tech Week mood was probably the most upbeat, with the subjects ranging from the difficulties around skill shortages to sustainability. For us, the most interesting event were however the fringe ones, where companies discussed more “hands-on” matters, such as how to be protect and value you IP and thinly disguised recruiting events such as the WorkerTech breakfast proving there is indeed a skill shortage.

“what is the point of crypto” - Michael Jackson, Fabric VC

Presenters and attendees at CogX, which probably had the largest Blockchain focus, and is as it the epicenter of the current market meltdown, were the most upfront about asking where things go from here. To us, tellingly, the question of “what is the point of crypto”, which was asked repeatedly during the conference, was still not answered. More than a decade after the blockchain was invented, this just isn’t good enough. We therefore remain very cautious on crypto and will remain so until this question is answered.

What does this all mean for venture debt? Well, demand has skyrocketed since VC is harder to find, but of course the risk has as well. Over the next few blogs we will explore this further and discuss:

  1. Start-up valuations, raising money in the current environment, and how venture capitalists are reacting

  2. Venture debt – what current market conditions means for supply and demand, the impact of expected lower valuations on debt, the impact of inflation and rising rates, and more

  3. When things go wrong. We will now see and significant increase in start-ups failing as they fail to refinance. How do you avoid investing in a company that might fail, and what are your options, as a lender, should one of your borrower get into difficulties?

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