5 min read

A Dispatch to Founders from TechCrunch Disrupt 2022

Even in difficult times we see opportunities to build game-changing businesses.

Christine Tsai

Founding Partner and CEO

Published

10.11.22

Would you rather raise a seed round or a Series A right now? That’s a question that TechCrunch’s Harri Weber recently posed to me at Disrupt 2022. Questions like that loom large for many founders these days. My message to them: even in difficult times we see opportunities to build game-changing businesses.

At Disrupt I had a chance to connect with founders and share 500 Global’s outlook. As a global investor, we’ve watched crises come and go and those challenges have never dimmed our belief in startups all around the world. That’s why 500 Global has invested in more than 2,700 companies since 2010. Back then the term “pre-seed” didn’t even exist, but the opportunity to write the first checks for talented entrepreneurs did—just like it still does today.

Market turmoil typically sees people pull back and become more risk averse, but we’ve always perceived that such times can be a great moment to launch a startup. We don’t think early stage companies are immune from a broader market pullback, but we believe the impact is less for seed and pre-seed startups. Already, it’s exciting to watch what’s being built right now compared to frothier times. 

When it comes to fundraising during this uncertainty, I believe it’s critical for early stage founders to build a pipeline of seasoned investors who focus on seed and pre-seed stages. Considering an accelerator program can offer really strong benefits as well: alongside access to mentorship, founders are able to connect with other founders going through the same challenges. When it comes to choosing a program, talking to other founders that have completed the program can be helpful to see if it’s a good fit. 

Is joining an accelerator a good option for startups that have already raised funding? I have seen plenty of our founders raise money before taking part in one of our programs where nobody bats an eye. Some founders may be concerned that joining an accelerator will be a tough sell to existing investors if the program comes in at different terms, but there can be ways to navigate that scenario.

Launching a startup today may not be easy, but I see plenty of founders solving hard problems around AI and machine learning, sustainability, climate tech, health and beyond. Crucially, founders in emerging markets are building  companies we find to be very exciting. Some on Sand Hill Road might see emerging markets as higher risk now. But our model is built around investing globally, which is why we plan to continue pressing forward across different markets, such as Central Eastern Europe, Pakistan, Africa, Southeast Asia, and more. 

As we continue investing in startups around the world, and our portfolio continues to grow and mature, we’re also focused on expanding our scope. 500 Global’s bread and butter is backing early stage startups, but we’re now flexing our muscles to follow our founders through Series A and Series B rounds, all the way to pre-IPO, and evolving into a multi-stage venture firm with deep global roots. Looking ahead, I’m excited by our portfolio and the future. Great companies are going to continue to be founded, and there’s capital to be deployed.

If founders can focus on building companies that solve a real problem, while prioritizing solid fundamentals over growth at all costs, we believe investors are going to stay interested. There are always going to be things out of our control, but as venture capital investors we’re playing the long game. 

 

THE CONTENT IN THIS POST IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL OR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. 500 GLOBAL MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS AS TO THE ACCURACY OR INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN AND WHILE 500 GLOBAL HAS TAKEN REASONABLE STEPS TO ENSURE THAT THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS ACCURATE AND UP-TO-DATE, NO LIABILITY CAN BE ACCEPTED FOR ANY ERROR OR OMISSIONS. UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED IN THIS POST, ANY PREDICTIONS, FORECASTS, CONCLUSIONS, VIEWS OR OPINIONS EXPRESSED REPRESENT THE CURRENT VIEW AND THINKING OF 500 GLOBAL WITH REGARD TO THE SUBJECT MATTER THEREIN BASED ON INTERNAL DATA AGGREGATED ACROSS ALL 500 GLOBAL FUNDS AS OF 11/10/22 AND/OR ANALYSIS WHICH HAS NOT BEEN INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED, AND WHICH IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME.
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Christine Tsai

Founding Partner and CEO

Christine Tsai co-founded 500 Global in 2010, and led the firm’s growth over the past decade from a startup accelerator to a multi-stage venture capital firm with $2.7B in assets under management, and more than 2,700 investments in 81 countries. 500 Global regularly ranks as one of the most active venture capital firms in the world, according to PitchBook, with a top number of exits. The firm’s diversified portfolio includes 49 companies valued at more than $1B, such as Talkdesk, Canva, Grab, GitLab, and Intercom. Private Equity International has named Christine one of 10 Women of Influence in venture capital. She currently serves on the venture capital committee of the Association of Asian American Investment Managers, the Global Tech VC Council of the Global Private Capital Association, and is an active member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. Christine is also an honoree of Gold House’s 2021 A100 List, recognizing the most impactful Asian and Pacific Islander leaders across business and technology, entertainment, advocacy and politics, lifestyle, and sports. Prior to founding 500 Global, she held product marketing and operating roles at Google, including monetization and developer products such as Google AdSense, Google Analytics, YouTube APIs and syndication, and Google Developer Platform Tools. Christine holds a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

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