Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) has released the 11th edition of its Startup Outlook Report, based on a survey of 1,100 startup founders and executives in the US, UK, China, and Canada. The report found that most startups are optimistic about global business conditions amidst economic and political uncertainty, with 67% of entrepreneurs expecting that conditions will improve this year compared to 2019.

The report also finds that despite this optimism, startups are concerned about raising capital and hiring talent. Amid calls for greater diversity in the startup community, the report underscores the large gap that must be closed before reaching gender, ethnic and racial parity in tech leadership roles.

Global Findings
The following are the key findings from the global survey, which was conducted between October and November 2019. Most Startup Outlook 2020 respondents are founders or executives of companies with fewer than 25 employees and less than $25 million in annual revenue.

Business Conditions and Hiring

  • 67% of entrepreneurs expect business conditions in 2020 to be better than 2019; 24% expect business conditions to be the same as 2019.
  • 79% of startups plan to hire in 2020, underscoring their growth plans and roles as job creators, but 45% of startups say it is getting harder to hire.
Chart describing your outlook for business conditions for your company in the coming year


  • Most startups in the US, UK, and Canada say their long-term goal is to be acquired as opposed to completing an IPO.
Chart showing the realistic long-term goals for your company

Raising Capital

  • Despite an influx of capital, nearly half (41%) of startups say it is getting harder to raise funding; just 12% say it’s getting easier.
  • Of those who successfully raised capital in 2019 (89%), 56% said they raised their most recent round in less than six months. Venture capital was the primary source of funding, followed by friends and family.
  • 36% of startups expect venture capital to be the source of their next funding.
  • 12% of startups do not plan to raise money in the near future, but instead, rely on organic growth.
Pie chart showing primary source of funding for private capital that was raised in 2019

Diversity in Leadership

  • Half of startups in the US, UK, and Canada have at least one foreign-born founder, highlighting the fact that entrepreneurship knows no boundaries.
  • 43% of startups have at least one female C-suite executive, and 42% have at least one female board member.
  • 42% of startups have at least one C-suite executive who is ethnically or racially diverse and 44% have at least one board member who is ethnically or racially diverse. Please see the report for how ethnic and racial diversity is defined.
  • 26% of startups have programs in place to increase diverse representation in leadership.
  • When asked about the types of programs, 43% of startups said they have company-wide promotion and hiring goals, but fewer than one in five has these goals specifically for C-level positions. Another one-third has diversity goals for board members.
  • The most common programs in-place include flexible work environments, recruiting outreach/interview techniques, leadership development, and training and supporting diversity-focused organizations.
% of startups with at least one foreign-born founder per region

Public Policy

  • Access to talent is the top public policy issue impacting half of startups around the world.
  • Secondary concerns include cybersecurity and consumer privacy (both at 29%), and corporate taxes and international trade (both at 26%).
Bar chart showing the three most important public policy issues affecting companies like yours

For additional survey results, visit SVB will publish an in-depth report on Women in US Technology Leadership in Q1 2020.