The party roars on: Investment professionals are confident about making money in 2020

“I continue to be amazed at how damn easy it is to make money.” That’s how one Term Sheet reader described the current state of affairs in the business world.

And they’re not wrong. Approximately 72% of the record 614 readers who took the Semaphore survey about confidence in 2020 said they earned more in 2019 than the prior year, with only 16% earning less. A full 69% expect to earn still more in 2020. 

(Approximately 24% of respondents work in private equity and 20% in venture capital, with the rest being investment bankers, LPs, operating executives and third-party vendors.)

The full results are quite interesting, but here are the highlights:


… of respondents have confidence in themselves, and 75% have confidence in their own business.


have confidence in the U.S. national economy (compared to 37% in 2019). 


… are not confident in President Donald Trump (compared to 81% in 2019), and only 16% are highly or somewhat confident. 


… say that the corporate income tax rate cuts influenced the business and investments judgments they made in 2019, while 79% say they did not.


… believe sexual misconduct, harassment, and gender bias are a problem in the VC/PE industry.

I was struck by some additional comments from respondents.

On private equity, venture capital, and valuations:

  • Bubble, baby! 
  • The VC industry needs to revert to value. The current environment of the “Venture Bros” and “hype for the sake of hype” needs to end. Softbank needs to go away and investors need to start doing their homework on companies before they invest.
  • Too much money driving unrealistic valuation and create opportunities for low quality companies that will still eventually fail.
  • Ugh! The all too merry-go-round must end. While the painted ponies are supposed to go up and down it is unsustainable that they just go up and up and up.
  • I’ve never been more bullish on the industry. The technological advancements of the next decade will be revolutionary. VC funding will continue to be a huge aspect of this movement.
  • Silicon Valley startup pricing is absurd! There is far too much capital chasing too few quality entrepreneurs.

On sexual misconduct: (Note: respondents were 86% male, 9% female, and 5% did not disclose.)

  • It is an issue in society, why would this industry be any different? All signs point to this industry being worse than society due in no small part to the insular nature of the participants.
  • The system is rigged to be male dominated due to the lack of turnover at executive positions in VC/PE. Until there is a changing of the guard, the current bad behavior will continue.
  • I have seen A LOT of it at my old company and some (although somewhat less prevalent) at my current company. It is always swept under the rug because it is done by high level employees to secretaries or analysts/associates. As a male VP (somewhat junior VP), if I speak about it people will treat me differently (good boys club). This is not okay and needs to be solved. 
  • I think there’s been so much talk and recognition of the issue, that it’s swung the other way.
  • I see men changing behavior out of both fear/necessity and recognition of that old habits need to die.
  • I have not personally witnessed anything, but that does not mean it does not happen. Men need to say something if they know it is happening. 

On President Donald Trump’s tenure:

  • Partisan behavior is taking over the House and Senate instead of logical decision making. There will be a changing of the guard in the next senate elections in reaction to the ugly politics currently.
  • The alternative is socialism. 
  • He’s been ‘bad for business’ in terms of the United State’s global economy. While he does have many fanatic fans, his overall reach has been dwindling over his presidency. 
  • Those trying to keep him in power will also be replaced (lose their elections) in their home states. The current political system is a total joke. You will see young adults come out in droves to get rid of this buffoon. 
  • Bloomberg or Biden will beat him. 
  • Democrats have weak candidates or candidates with positions that non-primary votes don’t agree with.
  • People like entertainment.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to take the survey. If you have any additional thoughts, share them with me on Twitter.

Polina Marinova
Twitter: @polina_marinova


- Behavox, a London-based provider of an employee monitoring and risk scoring system, raised $100 million in funding from SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

- TIER Mobility, a Germany-based provider of micro-mobility solutions, raised $100 million in Series B funding. Investors include RTP Global, Novator and Mubadala Capital.

- BharatPe,  a New Delhi-based digital payments startup, raised $75 million in Series C funding. Investors include Coatue Management and Ribbit Capital.

- Udemy, a San Francisco-based marketplace for learning and teaching online, raised $50 million in funding at a $2 billion valuation. Investors include Banesse Holdings.

- HealthJoy, a Chicago-based online healthcare decision platform, raised $30 million in Series C funding. Health Velocity Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including U.S. Venture Partners, Chicago Ventures, Epic Ventures, Brandon Cruz and Clint Jones

- Sokowatch, a Kenya-based B2B e-commerce startup, raised $14 million in Series A funding. Quona Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Amplo, Breyer Capital, Vertex Ventures, Timon Capital and 4DX Ventures.

- Chattermill, a London-based customer understanding platform, raised $8 million in Series A funding. DN Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Ventech, btov Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank.

-, a Cambridge-based online platform that connects specialists in healthcare and other sectors, raised £3.76 million ($4.8 million) in Series A funding. Nauta Capital led the round.


- Karius, a Redwood City, Calif.-based life sciences company, raised $165 million in funding. Investors include SoftBank Vision Fund, General Catalyst  HBM Healthcare Investments, Khosla Ventures and LightSpeed Venture Partners. 


- The Polaris Growth Fund made an investment in TransACT Communications, a Lynwood, Wash-based SaaS provider of engagement, compliance and payment solutions for the education market. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 


- Megvii Technology, a Chinese AI company on the U.S. blacklist, plans to refile for a Hong Kong initial public offering, Reuters reports citing sources. Read more.

- Uniasselvi, a Brazilian distance learning firm, has hired investment banks to manage an initial public offering in the United States, Reuters reports citing sources. The company is seeking a valuation above $1 billion. Read more.

- SelectQuote, an Overland Park, Kan.-based which provides an online DTC insurance platform, filed on Friday with the SEC to up to $100 million in an initial public offering. It posted $337.5 million in revenue for the year ending June, and income of $72.3 million. Brookside Equity Partners backs the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as SLQT. Read more.

- Inari Medical, a Irvine, Calif.-based medical device company focused on venous diseases, filed on to raised $100 million through an IPO. It posted $51 million in revenue for the year ending December, and income of $801,000. USVP (20% pre-offering), Coöperatieve Gilde Healthcare (19.6%), and Versant Ventures (14.9%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “NARI.” Read more.

- Cognitive Pilot, a Russian maker of components for driverless vehicles, is considering an initial public offering after 2023, per Reuters. Read more.


- Target Global, a Germany-based venture capital firm, raised €120 million ($130 million) for its early-stage fund.


- Harvest Partners promoted Michael Greenman and James Mitchel to partner; Josh Carter, Chris Peyser and Chris Schaller to principal; Fabia DeCrescenzo to director of finance; and Lucas Rogers to vice president.

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