Big banks came to First Republic’s rescue, but changing the ‘psychology of depositors’ may not be easy

March 17, 2023, 10:46 AM UTC
First Republic Bank is getting a rescue influx of $30 billion in deposits from big banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, in an effort to restore confidence.
Leonardo Munoz—VIEWpress/Getty Images

We made it to Friday. 

But it’s a tough week to be a bank. Specifically, a regional bank, it seems. Silicon Valley Bank failed last Friday and, under new management, has been pleading with depositors to bring their money back. But as we’ve seen percolating for several days, regional bank First Republic, which is also a provider to startups, is under pressure, announcing on Thursday afternoon that the bank is getting a rescue influx of deposits from eleven top banks, orchestrated by the U.S. government, to try to stem contagion. 

A cohort including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, PNC, and Truist, agreed to put $30 billion worth of uninsured deposits into First Republic in an effort to shore up the bank. First Republic’s stock has taken a massive beating this week, and some have been speculating it’d be the next domino to fall in the messy aftermath of SVB’s failure. As we’ve been reporting, in situations like these, it doesn’t matter as much if the bank’s financials are strong or not—what matters is customers’ perception of that security.

Regulators are trying to reassure depositors that, in the words of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday, the banking system remains “sound.” But one bank analyst told me that this rescue plan for First Republic doesn’t mean things are all dandy: “It’s definitely a sign that they’re struggling with deposit flight, otherwise that wouldn’t have been necessary,” Eric Compton, a strategist at Morningstar who covers First Republic and other banks like JPMorgan, told me Thursday afternoon (in a press release, First Republic said that “daily deposit outflows have slowed considerably”). “It solves, like, the short-term liquidity problem, but at the end of the day, JPMorgan Chase” isn’t going to replace customers taking out mortgages and using wealth products, he says. “So to the extent that those clients take their lending and/or wealth business elsewhere, or don’t come back, it’s a worrying sign.” (And interestingly, First Republic’s CEO was reportedly asking regulators less than two months ago to exclude the bank from proposed new rules, per The Information.)

But a couple of VCs I talked to Thursday afternoon had a different initial take: “Seems like a very strong sign. Good for them,” one venture investor told me, who acknowledged that it would make them feel more confident keeping money at the bank. They noted that “that group [of banks] is the ‘smart money’ in banking and does not like to lose money.” Another VC told me that it’s “too early to see whether [this] calms fears but clever move for now,” adding that “founders are pretty confused at [the] moment as down is up and up is down.” 

Sarah Kunst, managing director of pre-seed VC firm Cleo Capital, told me that she thinks the joint bank announcement “certainly is helpful to calm fears among investors, and I think that founders are largely taking their cues from what their investors are saying.” She says some of their portfolio companies have banked or currently bank with First Republic, and added that it’s “good” for founders to diversify who they bank with. “A lot of people had already started that diversification process over the last week just because of the uncertainty.” 

It’s important to note that San Francisco-based First Republic wasn’t quite as heavily skewed toward tech startups as SVB was: The bank said in a recent filing that no one sector makes up more than 9% of their total business deposits, with tech making up 4%, though they are known for their wealthy clientele. However, founders were, often at the behest of their investors, moving money to First Republic and other banks in the wake of SVB’s troubles.

The key question here is if this will be enough to restore confidence among customers. After all, we saw First Republic announce additional financing from JPMorgan Chase on Sunday, basically shoring up its liquidity in case it needed it, but that seemingly didn’t do much to assuage fears. As Compton noted, “It’s one of those things where the only way it really works is if you actually never have to use it. It’s all about just trying to change the perception in the marketplace and change the psychology of depositors.” What’s more, First Republic revealed on Thursday that the bank borrowed as much as $109 billion between March 10 to 15 from the Federal Reserve.

Compton believes, “It all comes down to if clients actually return to the bank and stick with it. If that happens, yeah, there are realistic scenarios where First Republic is fine,” but, of course, on the flip side, there’s a world where “the damage to the brand and just the psychology of the client has changed enough where they just don’t want to deal with it.” 

The situation is clearly still tenuous. And I truly hope—for the sake, first and foremost, of the customers and the broader ecosystem, and, secondarily, for my sanity—that I won’t have to write about any more bank failures anytime soon. 

On deadline: It’s not just me. Would-be buyers of failed banks Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, or parts of them, must get their bids in by Friday. Keep a close eye on that today. 

Since it’s Friday, and the end of a long year—er, week—below is a roundup of a few worthy reads.

‘What happens to all the debt?’ Founders and VCs have a host of questions about the fate of Silicon Valley Bank’s venture loans—by Anne Sraders (Fortune)

Goldman looked to buy SVB in 2020 but talks fizzled—by Liz Hoffman (Semafor) 

FDIC wants buyer of Signature Bank to give up crypto business, report says—by Leo Schwartz (Fortune

ICYMI—Stripe’s down round: On Wednesday, payments titan Stripe officially locked in a big down round, raising more than $6.5 billion at a $50 billion valuation—a mighty haircut from its 2021 valuation of $95 billion, and a lower valuation than was previously discussed for this fundraise, per reports. The company has said all along that this cash isn’t needed to support its business operations, but will be used to cover employees’ tax obligations related to expiring equity rewards and provide liquidity to current and former employees. Stripe had toyed with the idea of going public, but opted for the private raise instead. Some new investors hopped on board in this latest fundraise, too, including GIC and Temasek. 

Have a great weekend,

Anne Sraders
Twitter: @AnneSraders
Submit a deal for the Term Sheet newsletter here.

Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.


- Stripe, a Dublin, Ireland- and San Francisco-based payment processing platform, raised $6.5 billion in funding. Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Goldman Sachs, Temasek, and others invested in the round.

- Adept, a San Francisco-based research and product A.I. lab, raised $350 million in Series B funding co-led by General Catalyst and Spark Capital.

- Nimble, a San Francisco-based autonomous logistics and A.I. robotics company, raised $65 million in Series B funding. Cedar Pine led the round and was joined by DNS Capital, GSR Ventures, and Breyer Capital

- Parker, a New York-based credit card company for e-commerce brands, raised $31.1 million in Series A funding led by Valar Ventures

- SOLARCYCLE, an Oakland, Calif.-based solar panel recycling company, raised $30 million in Series A funding. Fifth Wall and HG Ventures led the round and were joined by Prologis Ventures, Urban Innovation Fund, and Closed Loop Partners.

- CAST AI, a Miami-based automation and cost management startup, raised $20 million in funding led by Creandum.

- Blinto, a Växjö, Sweden-based online auction platform for used heavy machinery, raised €10.6 million ($11.26 million) in funding from Verdane

- Almentor, a Cairo-based online video learning platform in Arabic, raised $10 million in pre-Series C funding. e& capital led the round and was joined by Partech, Sawari Ventures, Egypt Ventures, Sango Capital, and Endure Capital

- Shinydocs, a Kitchener, Canada-based digital information management software company, raised $9.75 million in funding co-led by First Ascent Ventures and Export Development Canada.

- Droplet Biosciences, a Cambridge, Mass.-based lymph diagnostic platform company, raised $8 million in seed funding led by The Engine.

- Payabli, a Miami-based payments infrastructure company, raised $8 million in seed extension funding. TTV Capital, Fika Ventures, and Bling Capital invested in the round.

- Trala, a Chicago-based online music school, raised $8 million in Series A funding. Seven Seven Six led the round and was joined by Lachy Groom Fund, Altman Capital, Next Play Ventures, and Concrete Rose Ventures.

- Allermi, a San Francisco-based direct-to-consumer allergy relief telehealth service provider, raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Nelstone Ventures

- Soul Wallet, a San Francisco-based smart contract wallet, raised $3 million in funding from  Struck Crypto.

- TeleportDAO, a Vancouver-based decentralized infrastructure company, raised $2.5 million in seed funding from AppWorks and DefinanceX.


- Barings agreed to acquire Gryphon Capital Partners, the Brisbane-based parent company of Gryphon Capital Investments. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

Court Square Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in Five Star Parks & Attractions, a Lexington, Ky.-based family entertainment centers developer and operator. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

- RE3DTECH + GoProto, a CORE Industrial Partners portfolio company, acquired Phoenix Proto Technologies, a Centreville, Mich.-based manufacturing services provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.

- Transtar Holding Company, a Blue Point Capital Partners portfolio company, acquired C&M Auto Parts, a Trenton, N.J.-based truck and automotive parts supplier. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

- Versaterm Public Safety, a Banneker Partners portfolio company, acquired CI Technologies, a Vancouver-based software provider for law enforcement agencies. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Grafana Labs acquired Pyroscope, a remote-based open-source continuous profiling company. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Lazard, a New York-based asset management firm, hired Aziz Nayani as director and head of communications for the firm’s asset management business in North America. Formerly, he was with BlackRock.

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