The CEO Beauty Premium
52 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2020 Last revised: 6 Nov 2021
Date Written: July 17, 2020
We apply insights from research in social psychology and labor economics to the domain of entrepreneurial finance and investigate how founder chief executive officers’ (founder CEOs’) facial attractiveness influences firm valuation. Leveraging the novel context of initial coin offerings (ICOs), we document a pronounced founder CEO beauty premium, with a positive relationship between founder CEO attractiveness and firm valuation. We find only very limited evidence of stereotype-based evaluations, through the association of founder CEO attractiveness with latent traits such as competence, intelligence, likeability, or trustworthiness. Rather, attractiveness seems to bear economic value per se, especially in a context in which investors base their decisions on a limited information set. Indeed, attractiveness has a sustainable effect on post- ICO performance.
Keywords: CEO attractiveness, beauty premium, initial coin offering (ICO), token offering, entrepreneurial finance, firm valuation
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