SVB collapse unlikely to hit fundraising for Southeast Asia startups: VCs

SANTA CLARA, CA, US – MARCH 13: People wait outside the Silicon Valley Bank headquarters in Santa Clara, CA, to withdraw funds after the federal government intervened upon the bank’s collapse, on March 13, 2023. (Photo by Nikolas Liepins/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Nikolas Liepins | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The collapse of U.S.-based Silicon Valley Bank is unlikely to hit fundraising for tech startups in Southeast Asia, venture capitalists and an analyst told CNBC.

The bank served many venture capital firms and venture capital-backed startups. But last week, depositors rushed to withdraw their funds as panic over the bank’s financial situation spread, causing it to collapse.

“I think [the impact on fundraising is] a watch out, but I don’t think that contagion spreads,” said David Gowdey, managing partner at Southeast Asian venture capital firm Jungle Ventures, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.

“I think Secretary Yellen and the government did a fantastic job of stepping in and taking away a lot of that risk, creating a lot of stability in the markets,” he said. On Sunday, U.S. officials including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced plans to backstop depositors of the bank.

Gowdey said SVB was the firm’s primary bank, but added, “We pull a lot of that money into Southeast Asia, into Singapore banks. And so for us, the exposure to SVB was not large.”

Golden Gate Ventures, which also invests in Southeast Asian startups, said the SVB fallout is an opportunity for the region.

“This has actually been helpful to Southeast Asia. It now looks like a golden child to U.S. investors. Investors are starting to say: I want to diversify to different bank accounts, different geographies, different currencies,” Vinnie Lauria, managing partner at Golden Gate Ventures, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday.

SVB crisis: Southeast Asia now looks like a 'golden child' to U.S. investors, says VC firm

“And this is where Southeast Asia has the time to shine, in light of the situation,” added Lauria.

When asked if the situation makes fundraising more difficult, Gowdey said funds in Southeast Asia are well capitalized.

“I think it’s being selective because of the macro environment. [Accessing] the capital will get harder, but the capital is there and it’s getting deployed,” said Gowdey.

VC firms previously told CNBC that economic uncertainties have made them pickier with investments in 2023.

“[In terms of] access to capital to tech entrepreneurs, the VCs will still be able to fund them,” Ray Wang, founder and chairman of Silicon Valley-based Constellation Research, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday.

“But it’s the question about taking bank loans, having operating capital, being able to actually run operations and having a bank that understands how a technology company works or biotech company works. That’s really what’s being lost here,” added Wang.

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