The Impact of COVID-19 on Global Startup Ecosystems is devastating

Global Startup Ecosystems

As our world is shaken in the most dramatic way imaginable, it is time for our global startup community to get closer, support, and learn from each other. Some of us remember the crash of 1987, the dot-com bubble burst of 2000-2001, and the 2007 financial crisis. With COVID-19, not only is the economic crisis sudden, the human impact is also horrific.

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Global Startup Ecosystems

To better understand the impact of this crisis on global startup ecosystems and to help founders and policymakers get through the storm, Startup Genome is launching the COVID-19 and Global Startup Ecosystems Series, of which this is our first installment, as well as a Global Policy Database for governments to learn from each others’ initiatives.

Global Startup Ecosystems

In this report, the key findings are:

  • Chinese VC deals have contracted between 50 and 57 percentage points since the onset of the crisis in the first two months of the year, relative to the rest of the world. If a drop like that happens globally, even for just two months, approximately $28 billion in startup investment will go missing in 2020, with a dramatic impact on companies.
  • If the drop in investments continues much further beyond two months and the COVID-19 shocks trigger an economic contraction, we can look at the previous two recessions (2000-2001 and 2007-2009) as historical analogies for the current moment. In those cases, the total drops in global VC investments were between 6 and 29.3 percent over twelve months — the equivalent of a decline of up to $86.4 billion in global VC investments, when projected to our current context. After the past two recessions, global VC investments took one (2007-2008) and three (2000-2001) years to recover to pre-contraction levels. Related, technology IPOs in the U.S. dropped by 90 percent following the last two recessions.
  • Crisis begets opportunity in more than one way. During the past two recessions, although fewer dollars were invested, more companies got funded, suggesting that businesses that are able to become cash efficient might become even more likely to raise money following a recession, albeit at lower valuations and lower total funds raised. In addition, over half of Fortune 500 companies were created during a recession or bear market, and over 50 tech unicorns, collectively valued at $145.2 billion, were founded during the 2007-2009 recession years. These include Airbnb, which was created because the entrepreneurs behind it could not afford to pay rent at the time.
  • New and young firms are the main net job creators in the economy, and this is especially true during recessions, when older firms are net job destroyers (Part C of this report). Recently, the U.S. saw unemployment insurance requests hit 3.3 million people in a single week: the highest such number recorded since 1967, when the Department of Labor started publishing figures on this. This need for net new jobs means the economy needs startups now even more than usual.
  • Governments in many places around the world are helping founders through these difficult times. Denmark, for example, is covering 75% of salaries for companies that do not cut staff, while Germany is offering to cover 60% of the new salaries for employees reduced from full to part time.

Global Startup Ecosystems

To continue Startup Genome’s mission of supporting startup success globally, we are closely monitoring the situation and what it means for founders and ecosystems. We are reshaping our global knowledge network with our Members across 25 countries to collect public and private policies being enacted and will be sharing them through a series of articles, posts and/or knowledge platforms. You can sign up to get in the loop on future installments and initiatives coming from this series here. Learn more and get connected at startupgenome.com.


Article by JF Gauthier, Founder & CEO and Arnobio Morelix, Chief Innovation Officer - Startup Genome

Arnobio MorelixArnobio Morelix

Chief Innovation Officer

Arnobio is a Silicon Valley-based executive leading a global team researching and advising governments and private organizations across 35 countries to help them boost their economies through entrepreneurship. Previously, he worked at Kauffman Foundation, where he created the Growth Entrepreneurship Index and the Main Street Entrepreneurship Index, hailed as the “bible of entrepreneurship trends” by The Huffington Post and used by senators, governors, city leaders, Fortune 500 companies, and the White House.

JF GauthierJF Gauthier

Founder and CEO of Startup Genome

Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of Startup Genome. He is the world’s leading voice in innovation ecosystem development, having advised—and learned from—more than 100 government and private-public partnerships leading ecosystem development across 35 countries. He also is an active angel investor and previously worked in tech strategy and corporate innovation, advising IBM, Cisco, Agilent/HP, J&J, Abbott and others, for the firm of Kim Clark (former dean of Harvard Business School) alongside Clayton Christensen and other thought leaders. Harvard MBA.

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About the Author

JF Gauthier and Arnobio Morelix
Arnobio is a Silicon Valley-based executive leading a global team researching and advising governments and private organizations across 35 countries to help them boost their economies through entrepreneurship. Previously, he worked at Kauffman Foundation, where he created the Growth Entrepreneurship Index and the Main Street Entrepreneurship Index, hailed as the “bible of entrepreneurship trends” by The Huffington Post and used by senators, governors, city leaders, Fortune 500 companies, and the White House. JF Gauthier is a Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of Startup Genome. He is the world’s leading voice in innovation ecosystem development, having advised—and learned from—more than 100 government and private-public partnerships leading ecosystem development across 35 countries. He also is an active angel investor and previously worked in tech strategy and corporate innovation, advising IBM, Cisco, Agilent/HP, J&J, Abbott and others, for the firm of Kim Clark (former dean of Harvard Business School) alongside Clayton Christensen and other thought leaders. Harvard MBA.

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