“Remember in March/April of 2020 we thought every fund portfolio would crash? The joke is on others not smart enough to be in our biz - not even a global pandemic can kill us.”
That was the first comment entered in the 14th Annual Semaphore Confidence Survey. It might just be true, given the stratospheric amounts of capital committed and invested accompanied by the continuing rising incomes of those taking our survey.
Commentary continued to explode – hundreds of your colleagues penned opinions – many thoughtful and some cringing to read. You can decide for yourself. Click here for the survey results and a representative sampling of commentary on matters of race, carried interest, sexual harassment, breaking up Big Tech, COVID, and the Theranos/Holmes saga. Many comments are truly delicious – how come none of you are as pithy and entertaining on my Zoom calls?
COVID proved not as troubling as expected with only 34% reporting it hurt your business while 54% of you predicted that it would in 2022. Only a third of you think it will hurt in 2022. It most certainly did not hurt your wallets as 77% earned more in 2021 than the prior year, and 65% expect to earn still more in 2022. Unsurprising, considering that 91% of you had full confidence in yourselves. Curiously, this confidence in self plummets to a 35% confidence rating in the US Economy and only 19% with a confident outlook of the international economy compared to 54% and 37% respectively expressing confidence last year.
The honeymoon for President Biden is evidently over. His confidence rating was cut in half from with 56% last year to 27% today. Could it be because many of our respondents fear a tax hike those in our industry doing so extraordinarily well? As one stated about eliminating Carried Interest “I benefit from it - but it is wrong,” balanced by some believing that “Tax breaks for (the) wealthiest citizens must be revisited.”
66% agree that sexual misconduct, harassment and gender bias remain a problem, down from 78% a year ago. A majority of 54% believe inherent racism is a structural industry obstacle, down from 68%. The self-identified gender mix of respondents this year were 74% Male, 24% Female (up from 18% last year and 9% the year prior), and 2% choosing Gender X.
The top five survey taking states were 22% California, 20% New York, 19% Massachusetts, 7% Texas, and Connecticut. Washington DC, Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado and Illinois came in at 2% each and no other state represented more than 1%.
Canada represented 17% of international respondents, 15% UK, 8% Germany, 7% China, 6% India and 3% France, Italy, Israel, and Singapore, 2% Brazil, Mexico and Australia. Respondents in descending order of submissions were from Japan, Taiwan, Sweden, Russia, Spain, Luxembourg, Philippines, Columbia, Viet Nam, Nigeria, with responses from 19 other nations.
Of the 579 participants this year 22% were from PE shops; 27% were VCs; 7% Hedge Funds; 9% LPs; 14% operating executives; 7% Investment Bankers; and 14% third party vendors/advisors to the industry (lawyers, accountants, etc.).
52% of survey takers believed the Theranos/Holmes saga was an outlier in our industry against 48% believing it more systemic. The most passionate of commentary was in response to this question including “Theranos is the tip of the iceberg - there are hundreds of VC funded startups that are illegitimate fake hacks,” and “Hubris is always in fashion.” We’ll be sure to poll the scandal of the moment next year.
Here is hope your supreme self-confidence somehow rubs off on the world economy and we come out of these still parlous times safe, healthier, and by all accounts, richer in both wealth and fulfilment. 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 principal offices in Barcelona, Dallas, London, Luxembourg, and New York.