To Our Clients:
As a challenging summer – in a challenging year – comes to an end, I am writing to touch base with you, offer an update following my last letter in the spring, and share new opportunities for you to engage with us in support of each other and our communities. Making and maintaining human connections have never been more important.
What has not changed in 2020 is our dedication to the success of innovation economy companies and investors, private equity clients and the premium wineries that choose SVB to deliver services in good times and bad. No crystal ball today has a clear view of the future, but we can offer our sector expertise, network of connections and decades of experience to help you navigate whatever comes next. An important part of SVB’s business is also to be a vocal advocate for issues that we, our clients and our partners deeply care about. Among the most critical are supporting small businesses, enabling companies to thrive and create jobs, advancing solutions for a more sustainable Earth and fighting for a more just society that provides equal access to opportunity.
The devastating impacts of a global pandemic and failures to address systemic inequality are the catalyst to do more and to do better. SVB’s values, our strong financial foundation and our market leadership position in supporting the world’s most innovative companies have enabled us to offer our clients financial relief programs and empowered us to drive change. We recognize that now is the time for us to play an even bigger role.
We believe we can more aggressively address urgent challenges facing our communities by joining and developing programs to forge solutions, including expanding opportunity for underserved and underrepresented groups at SVB and in the innovation economy.
Client Relief Efforts
First, let me provide a brief update on our pandemic-related client relief efforts.
Since March, we have provided nearly $3 billion in principal deferment relief to our commercial and private banking clients.
As of September 1, we have facilitated $1.8 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans to more than 4,400 companies.
In the UK, we are participating in the CBILS and CLBILS schemes.
Each of these programs is intended to help our clients navigate these uncertain times.
Throughout our 37-year history, SVB and our employees have contributed resources and expertise directly to local, regional and national initiatives focused on improving the quality of life in our communities. In this unprecedented year, we are giving back in new ways, starting with empathy for others, but what counts is turning empathy into meaningful action:
Since March, in addition to our established giving programs, we committed an additional $5.5 million to support local, regional and global activities focused on three areas related to the pandemic: health, food security and shelter, and small business relief. This includes corporate contributions and matching of SVB employees’ donations to related causes globally.
We will be donating the fees (net of our costs), which we expect to be in the millions of dollars, we receive from the Small Business Administration for processing PPP loans to causes that support the most vulnerable among us.
We are expanding our donations to not-for-profit organizations focused on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, including a matching campaign for employees who donate their money or time to social justice organizations. In the first three months of expanded giving, SVB has committed $750,000 for organizations including the NAACP and the ACLU.
Since we launched Access to Innovation in 2017, our signature program to advance opportunities and funding for underrepresented people in the innovation economy, we have impacted more than 2,000 lives, and in the past 18 months we contributed $4.3 million to support programs focused on diverse founders and investors, emerging talent and women.
Join Us and Get Involved
If you are looking for ways to give back this year, I encourage you to join us early next month to participate in our annual Tech Gives Back event, a day of service when SVB employees, clients and partners come together for community volunteer activities. Usually it’s a great chance to see each other in person and employ a little elbow grease. This year, we had to adapt, and virtual events are being held around the world the week of October 5th. From what I’ve already seen, working together we will be able to pull off the most meaningful Tech Gives Back yet – when it counts most for so many facing hardships. Please sign up here to see what’s happening in your region.
Next at SVB
For all the good we try to do, we recognize that in some areas we have fallen short. We are on a journey committed to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in our own workplace, at the board level, and by working with partners across our ecosystem. At SVB, we are hiring a Chief Diversity Officer and increasing leadership expectations and accountability tied to hiring, development, promotion, retention and transparency.
Additionally, several exciting initiatives focused on diversity in the innovation economy are in the works. They build on existing programs and financial commitments and create new ones, focusing on underrepresented groups, particularly Black and Latinx communities and women. I’m sharing some early details on a few in hopes you will support and take advantage of our efforts.
We are working to more explicitly address the barriers underrepresented groups face while seeking venture capital and other funds. Through SVB Capital we are developing an investment program for companies and funds run by underrepresented managers and with business models advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the tech ecosystem.
In August, we signed on with Act One Ventures and other leading VC firms to add a diversity rider in standard term sheets, which is designed to bring in Black and other underrepresented groups including, but not limited to, Latinx, women and LGBTQ+ as coinvestors on deals. It follows the introduction of a first-of-its-kind #MeToo morality clause as part of our investment in Hello Alice, a national platform that supports small businesses and “New Majority” entrepreneurs. The clause gives stockholders the governance mechanism to remove board members in the event of a #MeToo or racial and/or sexual discrimination incident.
SVB has made an equity investment in Valence, expanding a partnership that will give SVB clients access to this leading talent and networking platform for Black professionals. Stay tuned for more and let us know if you are interested in being a part of and getting access to this powerful network.
Additionally, we are an anchor founding partner of Venture Forward, a new non-profit arm of the National Venture Capital Association founded to promote a strong and inclusive investor community, and we’re supporting new programs to increase access to venture capital careers.
If you would like to learn more, please send a note to AccesstoInnovation@svb.com to be added to our newsletter.
This is only a snapshot of our overall efforts, and it is only the beginning of the work that needs to be done. For me, success means that we will positively impact our clients’ businesses and our communities in a time of life-altering change. It also will make SVB a better partner to you. I welcome your support, participation and ideas because success requires a steadfast commitment from all of us.
Please expect to hear from me on occasion throughout the pandemic for updates, new community engagement opportunities, and mainly as a simple way to try to keep us connected.
Wishing you well,Greg Becker
Silicon Valley Bank