HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 64
Houston expert shares how COVID-19 has affected venture capital locally and beyond
Locally, Blair Garrou, managing director at Mercury Fund, was among the first in the Houston innovation ecosystem to recognize what COVID-19 could do to the world of venture capital, innovation, and more.
At a panel for Houston Exponential's Tech Rodeo on March 6, Garrou observed that the pandemic had the potential to affect the venture capital market regarding valuations and investing.
"I never expected what happened, I just expected the markets to correct," says Garrou on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast.
While the pandemic posed challenges for startups and investors alike, Garrou says he sees some silver linings to how COVID-19 affected tech adoption. Non-tech and innovation companies have lost a lot of value, according to the S&P 500 Index, but tech and innovation companies have doubled their values. Some experts say that the pandemic has pushed user adoption by a decade or more.
"Everyone finally understands that digital transformation and automation are here to stay," Garrou says. "Just look at our backyard and what the oil and gas industry has gone through. ... I don't think anyone could have through through all of this, but it's put tech ecosystems on notice because what's happened since the end of April to December is unprecedented in the tech space."
With so much uncertainty, it's safe to say the volume of venture capital investing is down, but over the past several months, VC activity has returned, Garrou says. Now, Garrou says he sees later stage deals — like series C rounds — are down, but early stage investing is up as individual investors want in on tech.
"People are realizing that money is in innovation and tech — especially in software," Garrou says. "I can't tell you how many individual investors who call interested in investing in Mercury as a fund or our companies. People are not getting the return they desire from the markets and they are seeing tech companies do great things."
Garrou shares more about what all he's keeping a close eye on as we enter a new year, plus what's happening at Mercury Fund in the episode. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.