On the Lifecycle Dynamics of Venture-Capital- and Non-Venture-Capital-Financed Firms
51 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2008
Date Written: August 2008
We use a new data set that tracks U.S. firms from their birth over two decades to understand the life cycle dynamics and outcomes (both successes and failures) of VC- and non-VC financed firms. We first ask to what market-wide and firm-level characteristics venture capitalists respond in choosing to make their investments and how this differs for firms financed solely by non-VC sources of entrepreneurial capital. We then ask what are the eventual differences in outcomes for firms that receive VC financing relative to non-VC-financed firms. Our findings suggest that VCs follow public market signals similar to other investors and typically invest largely in young firms, with potential for large scale being an important criterion. The main way that VC financed firms differ from matched non-VC financed firms, is they demonstrate remarkably larger scale both for successful and failed firms, at every point of the firms' life cycle. They grow more rapidly, but we see little difference in profitability measures at times of exit. We further examine a number of hypotheses relating to VC-financed firms' failure. We find that VC-financed firms' cumulative failure rates are lower than non-VC-financed firms but the story is nuanced. VC appears initially "patient" in that VC-financed firms are less likely to fail in the first five years but conditional on surviving past this point become more likely to fail relative to non-VC-financed firms. We perform a number of robustness checks and find that VC does not appear to have more stringent survival thresholds nor do VC-financed firm failures appear to be disguised as acquisitions nor do particular kinds of VC firms seem to be driving our results. Overall, our analysis supports the view that VC is "patient" capital relative to other non-VC sources of entrepreneurial capital in the early part of firms' lifecycles and that an important criterion for receiving VC investment is potential for large scale, rather than level of profitability, prior to exit.
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