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Semaphore's 2024 Confidence Results Revealed

Discover the latest insights from Semaphore's 2024 Confidence Survey

"I’ve got to admit it; it‘s getting better, a little better all the time (can't get much worse).”

With apologies to the Beatles that their music could belie our industry, this lyric came in a comment to our 16th Annual Semaphore Confidence Survey and seemed to summarize the entirety of the record responses received. Our respondents, while recognizing challenges, were decidedly optimistic about themselves, the state of the industry, their ability to deal with inherent problems, and rather certain that incomes would continue to climb.

Four overriding observations deserve note. First, women respondents more than doubled to 25%. Total participation exceeded 1400 responses, double last year and the largest number we have ever experienced. Artificial Intelligence is anticipated to capture the largest investment market share in 2024, far and away the hottest industry sector. Lastly, despite dismal lack of confidence in the Biden administration, over the three weeks the survey remained open, the expectation of whether the President would be reelected grew from 30% in the initial week to 46% at the end - mirroring recent political polls. Someone else with a higher pay grade than me can analyze whether and how all these connect.

The commentary remained enlightening and entertaining. Please conduct your own review and analysis of our audience opinion and whether you abide by them. 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, and whether Sam Altman should be running Open AI – 78% say yes with comments ranging from “He’s a genius” to “He’s a fraud”.

Results intrigued as usual with definitive confidence in yourselves (82%) and a 4X increase in the economy just twelve months ago (40% have confidence today in the US and 12% International), with a single digit 1% confidence in the US Congress. President Biden confidence rating held steady at just 24% with 58% expressing a lack of no confidence in US national tax and spending policies.

For the first time, less than a majority, 47% of you, earned more in 2023 than the prior year, while 58% expect to do so this year. This is a bounce back in confidence as last year we reported the lowest numbers of increased income expectation ever recorded.

Surprisingly, 56% do not support elimination of carried interest rates compared to 70% last year, with 44% apparently agreeing with one commenter that “Greed is not good”.

Our respondents don’t wish to have Big Tech broken up (72%), believe that sexual misconduct, harassment, and gender bias remains a problem (68%), both virtually the same numbers as last year. 51%, a slightly smaller majority than last year at 55%, believe inherent racism is a structural industry obstacle.

Respondents were from 25 states with California, Massachusetts and New York making up 59% of the US response. 38 other countries were represented with 37% of international respondents from Canada, UK and Germany (36% last year).

Males represented 74%, 25% Females and, 1% self-reported Gender X of those participating this year. 9% of you were from PE shops (way down from 24% last year); 34% were VCs; 3% Hedge Funds; 13% LPs; 10% operating executives; 9% Investment Bankers; and 22% third party vendors/advisors to the industry (lawyers, accountants, etc.) – the last two categories were double last year’s proportion.

Back to the Beatles – the song noted is “Getting Better” on the Sgt. Pepper’s album. The initial idea for the song's title came from a phrase often spoken by Jimmie Nicol, the group's stand-in drummer for the Australian leg of their 1964 world tour when he replaced Ringo who was ill. Take a listen – here’s hoping things do get better all the time.

Check out the complete results and engaging opinion by clicking here.

Mark DiSalvo is Founder and CEO of Sema4 Inc., dba Semaphore,, 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 fourteen 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, New York, and Washington DC.


Topics: Venture Capital, equity, private equity funds, Semaphore, limited partners, turnaround, technology, diligence, small businesses, growth equity investments, market, analysis, venture funds, private equity, ethics, ethical standards, business, Survey

The Life Sciences Success Blog: A Walk Through the Valley of Death

Posted by Richard Gabriel on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010 @ 8:15AM 

By Richard Gabriel

The Valley of Death for a Life Sciences company is that space, as coined by the NCI's Director of Small Business Innovation Research Programs Michael Weingarten, between a Phase 2 SBIR grant and the commercial success of the technology that is being funded and developed.

I've been there as an entrepreneur.  I've been there as an advisor who helps reorganize and counsel companies.  Bottom line is if management decides to follow the money and revitalize the business, the company and its shareholders will survive. I've built businesses from nothing more than purchase orders, down payments on contracts and a check book for financing.  With a smart financial manager, playing the debits and credits and working the receivables and payables, a business can survive those tough economic times. Guess what; those tough times are here again! And want to know something else?  Here's a surprise...your government is listening!

Here are some facts for you to chew on:

Life Science, medical device and services companies that have products for the Life Sciences Industry have a great opportunity with the National Cancer Institute's aggressive programs for Small Businesses under the STTR and SBIR programs. Just recently, I attended a conference in Boston hosted by the NCI's Michael Weingarten the Director of NCI SBIR Development Center; along with N. Stephen Ober, M.D. BU's Technology Development Executive Director, New Ventures. What was most striking about this half day of talks by companies that were hand picked to present by the NCI team and who were award winners of both Phase 1 and Phase 2 grants was the broad scope of the technologies and applications of those technologies. The Life Science technologies represented at the meeting were diagnostics, devices and drugs or as we like to say in the trade ‘D cubed'.

For those of you that don't know about these programs, STTR stands for Small Business Technology Transfer and is done with an institution, a not for profit, a university or medical center.  75% of the fund proceeds are given directly to the institution and the company is allowed to use 25% of the funds. The major focus of an STTR is to transfer important and meaningful technology from an institution into the marketplace through the participating company. The SBIR is known as a Small Business Innovation Research and a majority of these funds are available to the company. Collaboration with an institution is not mandatory.

SBIR phase 1 is up to $200,000 for a period of 6 months. Phase 2 SBIR's are for a period of 2 years and are upwards of $1.5 MM or about $750,000 per year. Most start up companies will be interested in the SBIR program as it helps fund research. If your company is lucky enough to win a Phase 1 SBIR and also a Phase 2 SBIR then your company is automatically eligible for the Bridge Award which is up to $3.0 MM over three years.  These funds must include an equal amount of investment capital that will help the company through the ‘Valley of Death' where many companies have perished even though they have had successful Phase 2 programs and have been, for whatever reason, unable to secure additional funding. The NCI has obviously analyzed its own program and the success and failures of its grantees and saw this valley of death and decided to do something about it!

For all the facts go to and you can find out everything you ever wanted to know about the NCI and their outstanding SBIR/STTR programs.

If your business is in trouble, call someone that has been through it because your best chance for getting through the Valley of Death is to have someone who has been there and come out the other side - more than once. Getting grants, finding new capital sources that you probably haven't thought about, reorganizing your business and focusing on revenues are some of the things an entrepreneur or funding group that holds a position in an ever downward spiraling investment can do.

You can't always sell equity or take on more debt to get your business and your shareholders out of hot water.  Sometimes it takes drastic measures - often painful.  But if a product line survives or a revenue stream is identified, sometimes that's all you need to re-trench and re-start a fundamentally strong business.  With good technology, smart road maps and proper execution you too can navigate the Valley of Death. My biggest problem as an advisor in a tough situation is "will anyone listen?" and "will the management team take action?"   In these cases you need a partner that is more than just a review and a proposal; you need a team that is all about fixing problems and initiating action.    One of the good things about surviving the Valley of Death is that you come out smarter, leaner, and more focused, with more promise and more certainty of success... almost worth taking the journey.

Send me an email and let me know your experience and


Richard Gabriel is head of the Life Science practice at Sema4 Inc., dba Semaphore (, a leading global professional services provider of Private Equity funds-under-management and technology diligence services. Semaphore currently holds fiduciary obligations as General Partner for six Private Equity and Venture Capital funds and advises General and Limited Partners as well as Corporations around the world. Semaphore's corporate offices are in Boston with principal offices in New York and London.


Topics: Venture Capital, technology, Life Sciences, SBIR, small businesses

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