Longtime investor Bill Gurley didn’t mince words at South by Southwest when sharing his thoughts about the high-risk, high-reward venture funding environment that is now the status quo in Silicon Valley. “There is no fear in Silicon Valley right now,” Gurley said during an onstage interview with Malcolm Gladwell on Sunday. “A complete absence of fear.”
Gurley, who has long held that the bubble is about to burst, believes that the high burn rates of new companies looking to scale without proven track records has created an untenable environment: There will be failures sooner rather than later. A partner at Benchmark Capital, Gurley believes that some “unicorns”—or privately held companies with a valuation higher than $1 billion such as Uber, Lyft, Snapchat, and many others—will begin to disappear. “I do think you’ll see some dead unicorns this year,” he said.
During the same talk, Gurley revealed that he wasn’t as optimistic as other technologists about driverless cars, though he did say that he believes Uber is a step in the right direction, particularly when it comes to changing behaviors built around drinking and driving. “The millennials don’t give a shit about cars,” he said. “There are kids that are 16 today and won’t get their driver’s license.”