Austin’s annual SXSW music, arts and tech competition formally kicked off immediately, and it’s already clear that there’s going to be at the least one central focus for the present: The continued collapse of Silicon Valley Financial institution (SVB) and its repercussions.
I arrived on the floor this morning, and overheard individuals speaking about it on my flight from Toronto (full of entrepreneurs, Shopify staff and a few traders); had one individual ask me about it on the road with out prompting (the solely individual I finished and talked to on the road); and heard it mentioned first as the crowd babble after which as the first matter on a panel referred to as “A Canine’s Life: Longevity Science Will get Severe” about extending the lifespan of canines by way of advances in organic sciences.
That panel, that includes The Longevity Fund’s Laura Deming and Loyal’s Celine Halioua, and moderated by The Atlantic’s Andrea Valdez, kicked off with Deming apologizing to the viewers prematurely for being barely distracted as a result of she was “simply ready on a wire to switch [her fund’s] cash out of SVB” as she checked her cellphone. She then proceeded to have a look at her cellphone each time she wasn’t actively being requested a query.
Halioua adopted that instantly by commiserating along with her investor, saying “all morning we now have been attempting to determine the place the fuck to place our cash.” She later additionally joked that the improvements her firm is creating stand to “compound over time, identical to the curiosity that I’ll not be getting on my financial institution deposits,” which rightly earned laughs from the crowd. Halioua wasn’t glued to her cellphone: She was wanting down at her Apple Watch with out interruption as an alternative.
Valdez did ask a query about the impression of the SVB collapse to kick off the panel after each panelists volunteered their very own remarks, and Deming famous that in case the viewers wasn’t conscious, this was successfully “the worst banking disaster since 2008” in phrases of the startup world.
In the event you’ve attended tech and startup conferences in the previous, you understand that panelists usually by no means have their units out on stage, nor are they normally actively checking them if for some cause they do. That, mixed with the nervous laughter each investor and founder delivered their half-jokes with, have been really outstanding to observe.
Earlier than the session even began, totally different teams each in entrance and to my proper have been speaking about SVB, with various ranges of familiarity with the state of affairs. When you might imagine it’s early to name this as the talk of the present — watching that sort of candid anxiousness onstage from established startup trade gamers, and listening to the normal buzz and stress from everybody else in the room, makes it clear that this yr’s SXSW received’t be about something it most likely supposed to give attention to.