For the past year, the tech renaissance has been limping along—not exactly thriving, but not imploding, as many observers expected, either. Compared to the first half of last year, the amount of venture money pouring into startups this year is flat. Tech M&A is booming, though little of it involves the unicorns, (the storied startups worth $1 billion or more. Companies with silly-sounding names and undifferentiated offerings can still raise giant rounds of funding, should they choose. (A food delivery startup called Deliveroo just raised $275 million!) And aside from rotten apples like Zenefits and Theranos, we have yet to see any market-rattling meltdowns. The startups that can’t raise more money bought themselves time, thanks to the giant cash cushions they built up last year. The unicorn mania which once swept the Valley has faded, but the unicorn reckoning is stalled. In other words, we’re in limbo.
“It’s shoulder season,” says Daniel O’Keefe, a partner at Technology Crossover Ventures, referring to the travel season between peak and off-peak times. “It’s not the peak and it’s not the valley,” he says, “and we don’t know how steep the slope is.” The mutual funds and hedge funds that waded into the private markets last year have mostly retreated, spooked by macroeconomic risk like interest rates, the Chinese economy or oil prices. But those were just tourists, anyway. The answer to the length and severity of this “shoulder season,” on the surface at least, is a big old shrug.
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A version of this article appears in the September 1, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “Welcome to the Valley’s Shoulder Season.”