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2019 Startup Outlook
Letter from SVB's CEO

STARTUPS ARE FOCUSED ON INNOVATING DESPITE UNCERTAINTY

Greg Becker  | February 20, 2019

Image of the words 10 years of Startup Outlook For the 10th year, Silicon Valley Bank is proud to present our Startup Outlook Report. The innovation economy has expanded greatly in the US and abroad in the past decade, and so has Startup Outlook. In our first report, we surveyed 300 people, most of them in California. The 2019 report includes the perspectives of nearly 1,400 technology and healthcare founders and executives primarily in major innovation hubs across the US, the UK, China and, for the first time, Canada.

In their responses this year, many startups tell us they expect business conditions to improve in 2019, and they are making plans to hire employees and raise capital. I love the fact that entrepreneurs are optimistic thinkers — after all, where would we be if they didn’t have a positive outlook? At the same time, they are realistic about the challenges they may face, whether hiring top talent, planning exits during volatile markets or navigating geopolitical uncertainty (read: US-China trade tensions and Brexit).

Looking at the first report from 10 years ago, I noted that hiring top talent was a concern then — even with high unemployment rates coming out of the Great Recession. Today, we hear how hiring challenges affect businesses in every major innovation hub, whether due to unprepared workforces, immigration policies or competition with tech giants. Entrepreneurs seldom speak with one voice, but this report underscores the unified need to find solutions — or risk a slowdown in innovation.

A small but interesting measure highlights the speed of innovation: The report of 10 years ago did not mention, for example, AI, autonomous cars or blockchain — now pioneering technologies. This year, we asked respondents to predict what the most promising technologies will be a decade from now. Check out the reports to see what each country chose.

One more shift: Today, the innovation economy, with its size and complexity, is a key barometer of the overall economy in many places and is subject to macroeconomic tailwinds and headwinds. Whether 2019 will be a turning point for global economies is hard to know. But we do know that innovators are adept at uncovering opportunities and overcoming challenges. That is one constant I don’t expect will change.

We hope you find useful takeaways in this report to help your company succeed. Thank you for your interest. Let us know what you think.
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