Hunker down, because winter is coming.
That's increasingly the message heard around Silicon Valley, as investors tell start-up CEOs that money will be less easy to come by.
"Raise twice as much and make it last four times as long. Pretend that you don't have the money in the bank, run lean," said AngelList CEO Naval Ravikant. "Assuming your unit economics are at least breakeven, keep your headcount low, raise money and stay in it for the long haul. It takes a decade to build a great company. There's no shortcuts."
There is by no means consensus among investors on how to term the current frothiness, but more venture capitalists have now acknowledged the possibility of a private tech bubble. Fueled by last week's bumpy IPO of Pure Storage and layoffs at Twitter, Snapchat and others, the funding environment is shifting.
Of course, not all start-ups are on equally shaky ground, VCs say. "The best companies are still getting financed, but they're not getting financed quickly," said Kate Mitchell, Scale Venture Partners co-founder and former chairwoman of the National Venture Capital Association.
The shift in sentiment is affecting unicorns and seedlings alike. "We are starting to see that early stage money being a bit less profligate," said Mitchell. "Pricing has moderated a little bit, terms have become a bit less friendly, or more balanced I would say, between the investor and the company."