“I told you last year the joke is on others not smart enough to be in our biz - not even a global pandemic or a market crash can kill us.”
That was among the first comments entered in the 15th Annual Semaphore Confidence Survey. I don’t know if true, but you get to do your own analysis. This was not the only “I told you so” as commentary continued to explode with hundreds of opinions shared. Whether a one word “yes” or “no” or a de facto pitch to write a book, most were thoughtful – and many purely entertaining. Click here for the survey results and a representative sampling of commentary on matters of the industry, race, carried interest, sexual harassment, breaking up Big Tech, COVID, and our most commented on subject ever - the FTX/ SBF implosion.
Results were intriguing with direct conflict between definitive confidence in yourselves (80%) and incredibly low confidence in the economy (10% in the US and 4% International) with literal 0% confidence in the US Congress, with other institutions and leaders not faring a lot better. President Biden confidence rating fell to only 23% with 62% having little or no confidence in US national tax and spending policies.
62% of you earned more in 2022 but only 49% expect to do so this year. In our fifteen-year history these are the lowest reported numbers of increased income expectation ever recorded.
We may have asked our last COVID question as only 11% believe it will have a negative influence on your business this year.
Unsurprisingly, 70% do not support elimination of carried interest rates. It prompted my favorite office image from an investment staff member voting in favor of elimination “Because it's funny to watch the partners of my PE fund get triggered talking about it being repealed.”
Our respondents don’t wish to have Big Tech broken up (71%), believe that that sexual misconduct, harassment and gender bias remain a problem (69%), and the same majority as last year (55%) believe inherent racism is a structural industry obstacle.
And yes, 70% of you believe the investment community is responsible for the FTX implosion. The hundreds of comments ranged from the defensive “Fraud is fraud, I don't think VCs can be held responsible for everything. If it was kept a secret from all but 4-5 exec's at FTX, it's difficult to expect external investors to know the extent of their duplicity” to damning “Complicit as hell” to our friend Mr. Hubris noting “I love saying ‘I told you so.’ Theranos was the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of VC funded startups that remain illegitimate fake hacks. Sam I Am is not the only fraud.” If true, I suspect we will be asking about another embarrassing incident in the next confidence survey.
Respondents were from 39 states with California, Massachusetts and New York making up 69% of the US response. 31 other countries were represented with 36% of international respondents from Canada, UK and Germany.
Males represented 87%, 11 Females and, 2% self -reported Gender X of the 701 participating this year. 24% of you were from PE shops; 38% were VCs; 4% Hedge Funds; 10% LPs; 9% operating executives; 4% Investment Bankers; and 11% third party vendors/advisors to the industry (lawyers, accountants, etc.).
I pray the new year continues to treat you kindly and that higher levels of confidence than predicted visit us all this year. Check out the complete results and engaging opinion by clicking here.
Mark DiSalvo is Founder and CEO of Sema4 Inc., dba Semaphore, www.sema4usa.com, a leading global professional services provider to troubled Private Equity, Venture Capital and Hedge funds under management. Semaphore currently holds fiduciary obligations as General Partner for eleven funds, is a New Markets Tax Credit provider, and advises Limited Partners around the world. Semaphore’s corporate offices are in Boston with offices in Barcelona, Dallas, London, Luxembourg, and New York.