Sinners or Saints? Top Underwriters, Venture Capitalists, and IPO Underpricing

63 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2018 Last revised: 24 Sep 2018

See all articles by Kose John

Kose John

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance

Anzhela Knyazeva

Independent; New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Diana Knyazeva


Date Written: September 6, 2018


This paper examines strategic interactions between venture capitalists (VCs) and top underwriters in the IPO process. We test two contrasting hypotheses: certification and rent extraction. On the one hand, the joint involvement of VCs and top underwriters can amplify their certification effect, reducing IPO underpricing. On the other hand, the rent extraction incentives of VCs and top underwriters, particularly in a repeated dealing context, can increase underpricing. We test these contrasting effects on IPO underpricing in the cross-section and around two regulatory shocks. First, VC-backed IPOs, VC-backed deals with top underwriters, and deals with stronger VC-underwriter ties exhibit greater underpricing. The cross-sectional results continue to hold in two-stage least squares estimation with geographical instruments. Second, the 2012 JOBS Act decreased disclosures by issuers and increased informational asymmetry. We find that IPO underpricing increased among VC-backed IPOs involving top underwriters after the JOBS Act. Third, a 2003 NASD rule limited explicit rents that may be extracted from preferential allocations of new IPO issues. We find that VC-backed IPO underpricing declined after the shock, and the effect was concentrated among VC-backed deals involving top underwriters and VCs with ties to underwriters. Importantly, we find no effect of top underwriters alone unless a VC is also involved. The observed decline in IPO underpricing cannot be explained by analyst involvement or the passage of Regulation FD. Moreover, repeat dealing between large institutions and underwriters similarly increases underpricing, but the effect does not explain the role of VC-underwriter ties and does not decline after the 2003 shock. Overall, our results support rent extraction, shed new light on the effects of VC backing, underwriters, and institutions on IPO underpricing, and emphasize the role of strategic interactions between them in the post-dot-com period.

Keywords: IPOs, Venture Capital, Underwriters, Institutional Buyers, Repeat Dealing, Conflicts of Interest, Underpricing

JEL Classification: G30, G32, G38

Suggested Citation

John, Kose and Knyazeva, Anzhela and Knyazeva, Diana, Sinners or Saints? Top Underwriters, Venture Capitalists, and IPO Underpricing (September 6, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Kose John

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance ( email )

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States
212-998-0337 (Phone)
212-995-4233 (Fax)

Anzhela Knyazeva (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Diana Knyazeva

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics