Exposed: Why we know tech startup valuations


Every time, it went the same way. I would ask a CEO to tell me his company’s valuation on its new round of venture capital or growth equity financing, and he’d decline. Same thing if I asked the company’s PR rep, or lead investor. Occasionally a rival venture capitalist who had lost the deal would spill out of spite, but it was rare. In general, valuations were considered precious trade secret.

That was ten years ago. And five years ago. And even three years ago. Today, however, such reticence is the exception to a new rule in which valuations are used to legitimize and promote venture-backed companies. Just think of all those unicorns, and that we all know of their existence.

Part of the shift is media-driven — a byproduct of increased coverage and reporters figuring out how to scour SEC and Delaware filings systems. For example, last week I…

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