WSJ. If government funds it, they will come. That’s an overlooked story line in the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. If Washington wants to point fingers, it should aim the biggest digit at itself.
Let’s talk about what actually imploded over the past week. If the name wasn’t already a giveaway, SVB was the lender of choice for tech dreamers. It claims to have banked nearly half of all U.S. venture-backed tech and healthcare startups. Yet in recent years those clients have skewed ever more in one direction. “We serve those creating positive environmental change,” SVB’s website brags, noting that the bank worked with some 1,550 companies in the “climate technology and sustainability sector.”
Most of these companies weren’t filling some vital market need. Rather, as the Journal reported, SVB was beloved for its willingness to offer “banking services to startups that often weren’t profitable, in some cases didn’t have a product, and would otherwise have a hard time getting a line of credit or a loan from a larger bank.” One tech entrepreneur provided law.com a more scathing description of SVB’s products: “They’re basically subprime business loans. You’re talking about companies that have no credit profile, they’re burning cash and are unlikely to raise the same type of capital because of interest rates. . . . It was basically social credit.”