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Survey Says: Readers Forecast Sunnier Outlook For Startup World In 2024

Illustration of stopwatch - 2024 [Dom Guzman]

Crunchbase News readers are more optimistic about the state of the economy and startup world going into 2024 than they were a year, or even just six months, ago, though they’re still skeptical about an IPO market rebound and many don’t expect AI to dramatically recharge the tech world this year.

Those are among the sentiments from our latest reader survey, in which our audience shared its thoughts on tech, AI, the economy, startup funding, company cost-cutting, and more.

Sunnier outlook for 2024

“Upbeat” was the word readers picked most frequently to describe their outlook for 2024, with just over 47% selecting that option. But a pretty big chunk — more than 22% — said they were still “confused,” and around 18% feel “gloomy.”

Still, that’s an improvement from a year ago, when the vast majority of readers who responded said they expected a recession in 2023.

All told, more than half of survey respondents said they feel more positive about the state of the global economy now compared to a year ago.

AI’s the word

Asked what the biggest story in the tech world will be in 2024, most respondents offered up thoughts related to AI. Some anticipate the artificial intelligence frenzy will peak, others predict more regulations for the sector this year, and yet others foreshadow AI becoming more mainstream.

Asked how AI will change the way they work in 2024, many readers listed marginal productivity increases but said they don’t expect the technology to radically revolutionize the workplace — at least not this year.

The impact will be “minimal in 2024” but lay “the foundation for major changes in subsequent years,” wrote one reader, who identified as an owner or executive in the finance or VC industries.

Said another, who works in sales: “In software sales it will automate a lot of the research done prior to a call, building account plans, outbounding, etc. It will save 20-30% of an account executive’s time at any level.”

Another reader who also works in tech sales predicted: “It will be all about co-pilots that generate suggestions or first drafts that I validate or edit before it goes out to a client, colleague, or into a system of record.”

All eyes on IPOs

Readers were split on whether to expect a rebound in the IPO market for VC-backed startups. Just over a third of respondents said they don’t expect the IPO market to reopen in the first half of 2024, while about 29% said they do, and 25% answered “maybe.”

Layoffs, cost-cutting stabilize?

The more upbeat outlook for the broader economy generally carried over into readers’ sentiments about their own companies’ or employers’ financial positions. Over 68% of respondents were more optimistic than not about their company or employers’ financial prospects heading into 2024.

Most companies are increasing spending or holding it steady in 2024, according to survey respondents, but about a third still said their companies are planning to cut costs this year.

Most people who responded to the survey feel pretty positive that their employer won’t cut jobs in the first half of this year. Nearly 65% said they do not expect their company will conduct layoffs in the next six months.

In fact, more than 43% of respondents said their company is actively hiring for new roles in 2024. Nearly half said they expect their places of employment will have more workers at the end of this year compared to the end of 2023.

That would offer some relief to workers weary of cuts: About 45% of respondents said their company cut jobs in 2023.

Still, headcount remains the top line item for those companies that are cutting costs, followed by employee travel, professional services, and software and other digital services.

Runways extend, companies pursue more capital

Perhaps due to earlier cost-cutting, almost a third of respondents said their company has more than two years of runway — that is, how long the business could continue to operate without an additional infusion of capital, based on current cost and revenue projections. (For the nearly 15% with six months or less of runway, tensions must be running high at this point.)

Nearly a third of respondents also said their companies are actively seeking new funding. And almost 20% said they might be, depending on how things shake out in coming months.

Methodology

Results are from a survey of Crunchbase News readers conducted between Dec. 13, 2023, and Jan. 3, 2024, in which 122 readers responded. Readers self-identified their industries and roles and were not required to answer all questions to complete the survey.

Related reading:

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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