Warming public markets are boosting the secondary market for startup shares

The late-stage startup market is sorting out how to value startups that had raised capital during the previous venture boom — Tiger Global Management recently resorted to selling individual stakes in its portfolio companies after failing to sell a basket of its stakes.

Frankly, it wasn’t shocking to hear that happening in this climate — when you can buy stakes in startups for cheap, why not pick and choose?

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More interestingly, it appears certain venture investors are snapping up secondary shares in startups. According to a report by Insider, some VCs are even turning to secondary markets to buy shares in the hottest AI startups.

This uptick in secondary market activity is not new. PitchBook wrote last December that while “volume of shares being offered by sellers continues to greatly outweigh interest from buyers […] institutional buyers are slowly coming back to scoop up secondary stakes.”

And according to data from secondary exchange Caplight, bids for secondary shares perked up after tech stocks plummeted in early 2023. In turn, that led to a smaller bid-ask spread between buyers and sellers of secondary shares.

All we had to do was wait for late-stage startup shareholders to capitulate to new valuation realities and tech valuations to perk up slightly. The combination of seller pessimism and modest buyer optimism has seemingly done the trick.

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