IPO angst is gripping techies

TechCrunch DisruptREUTERS/Kate Munsch

Hello,

Welcome to this week's edition of Trending, the weekly newsletter highlighting the best of BI Prime's tech coverage. I'm Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider's West Coast Bureau Chief and Global Tech Editor.

As always, I'm eager for your feedback, thoughts, and tips - you can email me at aoreskovic@businessinsider.com. And if you like this newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues they sign up here to receive it.

This week: A season of change in Silicon Valley

All is not well in the world of startups.

The warning signs have been flashing brighter every month, as a succession of hyped IPOs, from Uber to Peloton, fizzled after their market debuts. And once celebrated startup founders like WeWork CEO Adam Neumann, have been pilloried for presiding over businesses brimming with hubris but bereft of profits.

It may not be a full-fledged panic yet. But Silicon Valley recognizes there is a problem. Some venture capital investors say that faux tech companies are to blame. Others point the finger at Wall Street bankers. As Megan Hernbroth reports, a search for answers, scapegoats and solutions is now underway.

Dozens of the top venture capital firms gathered for a special "summit" last week to discuss a fashionable IPO alternative known as the direct listing. And last week's TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco - long a showcase for cutting-edge startups and products - sometimes felt like a therapy session for shell-shocked techies.

If you're not yet a subscriber to Trending, BI Prime's tech newsletter, you can sign up here.

Direct listings were discussed in at least three major panels throughout the first two days of the Disrupt conference.

"As someone who invests in companies that are upending the status quo, there is something innately appealing about a financial vehicle, an instrument, that is upending how things have been done for a long time," Spark Capital's Megan Quinn said during a panel.

Stay tuned for a Business Insider special report later this week that will take a closer look at the changes sweeping Silicon Valley and how it's upending the relationships between VCs and startups.

In the meantime, read Megan's full story here:

The flopping of the IPOs: Tech's biggest investors came to San Francisco for a major startup conference, and one topic stole the show

david kraneGV CEO & Managing Partner David Krane speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 at Moscone Convention Center on October 03, 2019 in San Francisco, California.Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Keep calm...and stay paranoid

As Silicon Valley rethinks some long-held principles, a little perspective can be good.

That's something you see right away with Juniper Networks CEO Rami Rahim, who lived through the dot-com boom and bust, and recently talked to BI Senior Reporter Benjamin Pimentel. As an engineering graduate of Stanford University, Rahim joined Juniper in 1997 when it was a still a stealth startup with the crazy mission of taking on networking giant Cisco. Some people tried to talk him out of it, but he says he took a leap of faith.

He hung on in the years that followed as the dot-com bust devastated the economy, and eventually rose to be the CEO of Juniper, which has grown into an $8 billion company.

Now the Lebanese-born Rahim is navigating a new set of challenges including the industry-wide shift to cloud computing and the unpredictable US-China trade war.

"There have certainly been ups and downs in my career here at Juniper," Rahim told Benjamin, noting that he approaches everything the company does with a certain amount of paranoia, while also recognizing that only certain things are within his control.

Read the full story here:

The CEO of Juniper Networks joined up in 'a leap of faith' during the dot-com boom. Here's how he plans to lead it through the era of cloud computing and tougher competition with Cisco.

Rami Rahim Juniper Networks CEOJuniper Networks CEO Rami RahimJuniper Networks

Bonus: Listen to the wild WeWork story

If you haven't had a a chance to read last week's 4,000-word investigation into what it was like to work at Adam Neumann's WeWork, we've got another solution for you: listen to it!

We've created a special audio version of the story, so that you can listen to it while you're on your commute to work, going for a jog or maybe even riding on your Peloton.

Listen: Employees inside Adam Neumann's WeWork talk about the nonstop party to attain a $100 billion dream and the messy reality that tanked it

wework company culture 4x3Theo Wargo/Getty Images for iHeartMedia; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Other recent tech highlights:

And more from across the BI newsroom:

Thanks for reading, see you next week,

Alexei

Exclusive FREE Slide Deck: 40 Big Tech Predictions for 2019 by Business Insider Intelligence

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