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Silicon Valley Bank isn’t dead yet. Here’s how the failed tech bank is aiming for a revival

A sign is stationed in front of the Silicon Valley Bank headquarters in Santa Clara. | Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Silicon Valley Bank—the startup financier whose collapse became a cautionary tale for the tech industry—still feels a bit like a dead man walking.

After federal regulators shut it down following a panic-induced bank run, the company and all its assets and liabilities were purchased by the regional North Carolina-based First Citizens Bank.

The acquisition brought stabilization—but not without growing pains and a nagging feeling that the Silicon Valley institution had drifted away from its roots as the de facto bank for founders with big ideas and a need for capital. 

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Six months into its new chapter, Silicon Valley Bank has doubled down on revitalization through marketing, advertising and even a new events space in Downtown San Francisco. The message it wants to send is clear: We’re so back.

The bank launched a tongue-in-cheek ad blitz in September that seemingly anticipates the response when the bank gets brought up in general conversation: “Yes, SVB.” 

“Despite what you might have read or heard,” Marc Cadieux, Silicon Valley Bank’s president of commercial banking business, said in announcing the novel marketing strategy, “SVB is open and operating with the largest teams of dedicated bankers serving private equity, the innovation economy and the wine industry.”

The bank seems to be able to back that up with the resources to boot, touting in that very announcement how it put more than $1 billion in new loan commitments to technology and health care companies in the second quarter of 2023.

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Asheesh Birla, an angel investor and Ripple board member, noticed that SVB is trying to court techies more actively—even with their growing pains—by sponsoring conferences and bringing company representatives to endear themselves back into techies’ good graces.

The other key to its push to win over the hearts and minds of tech workers is the SVB Experience Center in Downtown San Francisco. It has been in the works since summer 2022 when tech’s fortunes were only just starting to wane, but the venue’s fate was up in the air when the bank imploded.

Media reports at the time even suggested that people were taking selfies in front of the center, just in case it ceased to exist in the coming months. 

Still, the Experience Center opened and has been hosting tech industry events since at least May, when SVB hosted a happy hour and panel as part of A16Z’s Tech Week in San Francisco. In between, events ranging from taco Tuesdays and techie-centered speaker sessions continue to fill the space—some proof that tech founders and workers are starting to embrace the bank.

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Birla adds that just having a physical presence—and replacing the stigma of SVB’s fall with a little reminder of its place in San Francisco’s tech community—is “bolstering their identity.”

“When people walk past them and they see Silicon Valley Bank investing in a physical space, it builds a little bit of confidence,” he said. “Not only is Silicon Valley Bank still around, they’re investing in their future.”

Meanwhile, Cadieux has not shied away from public appearances in San Francisco. Last month, he spoke recently at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, where he said his strategy was to tell former clients: “Come on back. The water’s fine.”