Some of Silicon Valley Bank’s customers are struggling to transfer funds out of their bank accounts, numerous sources tell TechCrunch.
The seeming wave of attempted withdrawals comes after SVB announced yesterday that it lost $1.8 billion in the sale of U.S. treasuries and mortgage-backed securities that it had invested in, owing to rising interest rates. The bank also said that it was raising more capital, and investing into higher-yield products. Concern ensued, leading the share price to tank more than 50% at time of publication.
Dozens of VCs are advising their portfolio companies to pull their assets from the bank, sources say, while others are pushing for founders to at least diversify where they hold their capital. Others, meanwhile, warn that the panic is coming too early — perhaps from earlier news this week that Silvergate, another bank, is shutting down. SVB as a result is clearly experiencing deposit volatility from a subset of its users.
One source tells TechCrunch that parts of the SVB site is down, as well as one of its client support phones, despite using different browsers and apps to try to move their capital. Another says that account access controls are now view only, meaning that users cannot conduct withdrawals or wires. Others on Twitter say that they’re unable to log into the online banking portal at large. One VC tells me that, because the website is down, portfolio founders are at SVB bank branches currently asking for cash to be released.
TechCrunch spoke to a founder, who requested anonymity, who said that they finally got through to SVB customer support by calling a local representative. The representative told them that the website is spotty due to high volumes of traffic from users. The founder eventually got through and put in the wire of the millions they had in the bank to First Republic Bank, a transaction expected to go through tomorrow morning.
“We’ll probably wire some, if not all, back when the dust settles,” the founder said, adding that they don’t want to participate in an attempted bank run. Still, they said, “the game theory here is if you don’t, you might lose your company, and if you do, it’s not really that big of a deal.” The entrepreneur did speak about the ethical obligations on not pulling money, but said that “everybody is jittery, everybody is thinking about SBF,” so they ultimately transferred funds.
Another founder told TechCrunch that they bank with SVB and “are taking a less alarmist approach despite getting some emails from investors. We’re diversifying where we hold our cash (we’re a credit card company, so moved some to our sponsor bank.) We feel confident SVB isn’t going anywhere.”
In a call earlier today, CEO Greg Becker told clients that said the bank has “ample liquidity” to support its clients “with one exception: If everybody is telling each other that SVB is in trouble, that will be a challenge.” The executive asked VC clients to “stay calm. That’s my ask. We’ve been there for 40 years, supporting you, supporting the portfolio companies, supporting venture capitalists.”
If you have a juicy tip or lead about happenings in the venture world, you can reach Natasha Mascarenhas on Twitter @nmasc_ or on Signal at +1 925 271 0912. Anonymity requests will be respected.