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The Role of Independent Directors in VC-Backed Firms

Brian J. Broughman

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

October 13, 2008

This paper seeks to explain the widespread use of independent directors in the governance of VC-backed firms, and in particular their use as "tie-breakers" on the boards of these firms. Allocating a tie-breaking vote to an unbiased "arbiter" commits the entrepreneur and VCs to more reasonable behavior and can reduce the opportunism that would result if either party were to control the board. Consistent with my theory, data from Silicon Valley startups illustrate several mechanisms entrepreneurs and VCs use to select an unbiased independent director. I conclude by considering implications for corporate law and fiduciary obligations in VC-backed firms.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 42

Keywords: Venture capital, independent directors, corporate law, incomplete contracting

JEL Classification: G24, G32, G34, K12, K22, M13

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Date posted: July 21, 2008 ; Last revised: October 15, 2008

Suggested Citation

Broughman, Brian J., The Role of Independent Directors in VC-Backed Firms (October 13, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1162372 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1162372

Contact Information

Brian J. Broughman (Contact Author)
Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )
211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
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