The Failure of Silicon Valley Bank in 2023

Silicon Valley Bank’s downfall shows the risks of overexposure to speculative tech investments, as well as what can happen when mismanagement and competitive threats come together. The bank that helped enable the growth of Silicon Valley ultimately couldn’t overcome the Valley’s boom-and-bust cycles. Its story serves as a cautionary tale for other banks seeking to capitalize on the allure of tech startups without proper risk management. Silicon Valley Bank flew too close to the sun, and its wings melted in the end.


By 2023, many Silicon Valley startups were struggling amid a broader economic downturn, fueled in part by the crash in tech stocks and IPOs. As startups laid off employees and went out of business, Silicon Valley Bank was left with heavy losses and eventually had to file for bankruptcy. It couldn’t withstand the combination of management issues, risky bets, competition from larger players, and cyclical downturns that had come to define Silicon Valley.

A downturn hits Silicon Valley

Major banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Citigroup entered Silicon Valley Bank’s turf, providing loans, credit lines, and other financial services to startups. They had more resources, better brand recognition, and were able to offer startups more attractive terms. These big banks poached many of Silicon Valley Bank’s clients, further reducing the revenue it could use to offset its bad loans.

Increased competition from big banks

There were also reports of poor management and infighting at the highest levels of the bank. The CEO was ousted in 2022 but the new leadership failed to correct course, continuing the risky investment strategies that had already put significant strain on the bank’s balance sheet. Talented executives and bankers left for competitors, hurting the bank’s ability to work with startups.

Management issues and infighting

Silicon Valley Bank provided loans, lines of credit, and other financial services to many unprofitable startups, hoping to cash in once they went public or were acquired. They bet big on startups working on emerging technologies like virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, and biotech, even though many of these companies were far from turning a profit. However, the IPO market crashed in 2022, leaving the bank with billions in bad loans as many of these startups failed or were sold for less than Silicon Valley Bank had invested in them.

Risky bets on unprofitable startups

Silicon Valley Bank was once the darling of tech startups and venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. However, a combination of risky bets, poor management decisions, and increased competition led to its slow decline and eventual downfall in 2023. JP Morgan might be a great suitor to take on SVB Financial after it is liquidized.

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