Growth-stage private companies are now performing worse than the Nasdaq

August 4, 2022, 12:34 PM UTC

It works both ways.

When public equities began to sink in value last year, valuations for private companies initially maintained momentum, before they, too, began to plunge. Now the Nasdaq is starting to recover, but shares for privates aren’t. At least, that’s what pricing activity on the secondary market is telling us.

While the price of startup shares may not officially drop or go up in value until a formal financing or liquidity event, there’s still price discovery to be had in the meantime. Institutions, investors, and employees buy and sell shares on the secondary market—through brokers. That means that there’s still a spread between the selling and buying price, and that we get a good idea of what the demand for those shares is looking like behind the scenes. 

Independent data company ApeVue, which pulls data from nine separate brokers that trade secondary shares for institutions, tracks the 50 most actively-traded companies in the private market on a benchmark it calls the ApeVue50. As you could imagine, share prices have lost a chunk of value throughout this year. As of the end of July, the index was down 28.3% from the beginning of this year, and it’s now performing worse than the Nasdaq, which closed the month of July down nearly 21% from January levels. Here’s a look:

That intersection in July—where those two lines overlap—is a moment worth pointing out, as it’s a meaningful indicator that the private markets are performing worse than the public ones.

“All through quarter one and quarter two, the Nasdaq has underperformed the ApeVue50,” says Nick Fusco, CEO of ApeVue. “And then only in July did the Nasdaq begin to outperform it. So we’re seeing that the private companies are now down worse than the Nasdaq.”

Interestingly, not all companies are having a bad year on the secondary market. Shares of blockchain technology solutions company ConsenSys, which had raised a whopping $450 million in venture funding at a $7.1 billion valuation in March, are trading nearly 57% above what they were at the beginning of this year, per ApeVue data. And shares of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is reportedly seeking to raise $1.7 billion in capital, are up 16.8%, according to the data. You can’t say as much for the other 13 most actively traded companies—namely Klarna, Kraken, Stripe, and Bolt. 

I’ll add that not all sectors are created equal, as you can see from these sector-specific ApeVue indices:

The data isn’t perfect: Not all private companies are actively traded on the secondary market, and ApeVue doesn’t pull share prices on companies where less than $1 million worth of shares are exchanging hands. But it’s still a worthwhile indicator of what things are looking like under the hood, which is this: Still bad.

When will growth stage companies start to recover, you might ask?

“​​I’m not going to be the one to predict the bottom,” Fusco says.

Who has lost the most money in a single day? It’s a question you may get asked while playing Trivial Pursuit, and here’s your answer: Michael Saylor. The founder of MicroStrategy, a business intelligence and analytics company that went public in 1998, lost $6 billion of his personal wealth after his company became ensnared in an accounting scandal that sent the stock plunging 62% in a day. But Saylor seems to be enchanted by a wild ride, rather than shy away from it, and he’s bet the future of his $500 million revenue company on Bitcoin. He’s become one of the cryptocurrency’s biggest promoters, and is now stepping back from his role as CEO after 30 years to focus on the company’s “Bitcoin acquisition strategy and related Bitcoin advocacy initiatives” as MicroStrategy’s executive chairman. You can read more about it, and whether or not this will be the move that sinks Saylor once and for all, in this wild feature by my colleague Shawn Tully.

See you tomorrow,

Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
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Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.


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- ​​Boisson, a New York-based non-alcoholic beverage retailer, raised $12 million in seed funding. Connect Ventures and Blue Scorpion Investments led the round and were joined by investors including UFC fighter Francis Ngannou, Midnight Ventures, and Red Krypton.

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- Nano, a Hanoi, Vietnam-based earned wage access provider, raised $6.4 million in pre-Series A funding. Openspace led the round and was joined by investors including Partech Partners, Tekton Ventures, KVision, IT Farma, Sketchnote Partners, Golden Gate Ventures, FEBE Ventures, FJLabs, Venturra, TO Ventures, ACE & Company, and Goodwater Capital

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- Territorium, a San Antonio-based education technology company, raised $4.4 million in seed funding led by Cometa

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- Ottonomy.IO, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based autonomous robot delivery company, raised $3.3 million in seed funding led by Pi Ventures


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- SyBridge Technologies, backed by Crestview Partners, acquired Calframax Technologies, an Oldcastle, Ontario-based precision tooling market company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

- WindRose Health Investors acquired a majority stake in BPD, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based hospital and health system-focused marketing solutions provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.


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- Envoy acquired OfficeTogether, a San Francisco-based desk reservation and scheduling startup. Financial terms were not disclosed.

- Infinite Assets acquired Super Bit Machine, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based gaming studio. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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- PT Holdings acquired Commercial Kitchen Parts & Service, a San Antonio-based commercial kitchen equipment repair services provider. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

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Tegus acquired Canalyst, a New York and Vancouver-based public company data and analysis platform. Financial terms were not disclosed.


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- J.C. Flowers & Co, a New York-based private investment firm, raised more than $1.1 billion for a fifth fund focused on sub-sectors of the financial services industry, including banks, insurance and reinsurance, specialty and consumer finance, asset management and financial technology and securities firms.


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- Quona Capital, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm, hired David Mathewson as chief operating officer and partner. Formerly, he was with SEAF.

- Red Arts Capital, a Chicago-based private equity investment firm, promoted Chris Hull to vice president. 

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