Crowd-Based Rankings and Frictions in New Venture Finance

98 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2021 Last revised: 4 Mar 2021

Date Written: November 3, 2020


Using detailed data from a prominent online platform that generates noisy market traction measures for technology startup launches by aggregating user upvotes into rankings, I find that information acquisition frictions affect venture capital investors’ funding decisions. By exploiting an instrument based on the ex-ante quality and quantity of supply of other products, I identify that each exogenous shift to ranking lowers a startup’s probability of raising venture funding by 4.8% within a year, and reduces its chance of raising from brand name VCs. Consistent with theoretical predictions, higher-ranked products and startups farther away from VCs are more affected by ranking frictions.

Keywords: entrepreneurial finance, venture capital, online platform

Suggested Citation

Cao, Ruiqing, Crowd-Based Rankings and Frictions in New Venture Finance (November 3, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Ruiqing Cao (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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