The opening slide -- a tombstone with a skull on top and the words "R.I.P. GOOD TIMES" in the middle -- pretty much sets the tone for what is a depressing Halloween-esque look at the investment environment by the respected London-based capital fund investor.
However, the chills it could send down the spine of anyone worried about the economy are just as appropriate.
Early in the slide deck, which can be viewed here at the VentureBeat site, Sequoia Capital starts off by listing the multiple problems causing the current economic problem.
Among the causes include the housing-led recession, over-leveraged finances, falling asset prices, frozen credit markets, weak household balance sheets, and inflation synchronization with deflation.
Long market cycles driven by central banks and increased productivity have lead the U.S. to become a nation of consumers, according to the slideshow. The urge to buy has lead foreign countries to invest in U.S. treasuries, which cause debt to balloon and left the U.S. economy dependent on foreign sources of dollars.
Other causes of the economic malaise, according to the slideshow, include the unusual growth in home prices, loosening of certain regulations, the growth in derivatives, a tremendous build-up of manufacturing capacity since 2003, and a tightening of credit.
For instance, according to the Sequoia Capital slideshow, total consumer spending in the U.S. is now 73 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), up from 66 percent 20 years ago. Meanwhile, the personal savings rate has dropped to close to 0 percent, as have the growth of real after-tax wages and salaries.
As a result, consumer household debt, fueled by a fast growth in mortgage equity withdrawals which peaked in 2006, is combining with an increase in unemployment to push the U.S. to the brink of recession, according to the slide show.
As a result, warns Sequoia Capital, the recovery from the current economic situation will be much longer than normal.
For Sequoia Capital's client, the warning is more specific: it will be increasingly hard to get funded, especially for second and third rounds.
For companies to be successful, controlling expenses and becoming cash-flow positives will be essential. They can expect merger and acquisition (M&A) activity to decrease, and the price of selling their business to fall when compared to the last few years.
Indeed, to survive, Sequoia Capital published this checklist of requirements to preserve capital:
-- Must-have product
-- Established revenue model
-- Understanding of market uptake
-- Customers' ability to pay
-- Assessment vs. competitors
-- Cash is king
-- Need for profitability
Other necessary moves, according the slideshow: adopt a zero-based budgeting approach, make cuts and review salaries, employ a heavily-commissioned sales force, become cash-flow positive quickly, and, finally, "spend every dollar as if it were your last."
Finally, Sequoia Capital warned companies looking for investments: Get Real, or Go Home."
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