‘Not anywhere near the top’ of tech: VC Tim Draper


Valuations for Silicon Valley start-ups are not “crazy” and the tech space is not in bubble territory, venture capitalist Tim Draper told CNBC on Tuesday.

“When people start talking about a bubble, you’re not anywhere near the top of a bubble. I think we got a long way to go,” Draper, a partner at venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, said on “Squawk Alley.”

In terms of risk, the burn rate for Silicon Valley companies is not one size fits all either, Draper said. In other words, how a company manages its money is specific to that company and not indicative of the entire sector, he said.

“Companies need to figure out their burn rate in a case-by-case basis. I don’t think it’s necessary that you just take a blanket statement and say, ‘Hey, everybody cut back,'” he said. “I think there are plenty of opportunities out there and if you know what you need to do with your money, pour it on.”

The debate over valuations and risk regarding start-ups has consumed Silicon Valley recently.

In September, Marc Andreessen was the first venture capitalist to warn that start-ups are taking on too much risk and burning up too much cash.

Shortly thereafter, venture capitalist Bill Gurley told The Wall Street Journal that Silicon Valley is getting a little too risky with all of these start-ups.

“I think that Silicon Valley as a whole, or that the venture capital community or start-up community, is taking on an excessive amount of risk right now; unprecedented since ’99,” Gurley told the Journal.

Two weeks ago, venture capitalist Randy Komisar told “Squawk Alley” he, too, thinks “we’re getting ahead on valuations.”

To Komisar, a partner with venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, former CEO of LucasArts Entertainment and founding director ofTiVo, there are a few reasons behind this growing concern. First, “there’s too much capital and there’s very few places to invest it,” he said. Second, risk is not being priced properly and so venture capitalists are taking high-risk, high-reward bets, he said.

“The megawinners, while they have low probability, have had such great returns that they tend to be the best bets that the market’s made in Silicon Valley certainly in the last decade,” he said. “So consequently, that sort of investing—very, very high probability of failure, but very, very extraordinary returns on the winners—drives people to take risks differently.”

Looking forward, Komisar said accountability will come into the marketplace as people reconsider if they will raise capital to sustain these big bets.

But Venky Ganesan, managing director at Menlo Ventures, seemed to share Draper’s line of thinking when he appeared on “Squawk Alley” two weeks ago.

“While we are in an up cycle, we are nowhere close to the top,” Ganesan said. “I think what’s going on is more like a block party than a citywide party. There are pockets of irrational exuberance, but for the most part, I think it’s actually fine.”

Ganesan acknowledged that the party will someday end—but in the meantime, he plans to capitalize on the right investment opportunities.

Image credit: CC by The Digital Movement

About the author: Drew Sandholm

Drew Sandholm is a producer for CNBC, writing articles and working on special features for CNBC.com. Before joining CNBC, he reported for the investigative unit at ABC News and was a television anchor/reporter at an ABC News affiliate. He holds bachelor’s degrees in Mass Communications and English from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

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