Evolution of Decision and Control Rights in Venture Capital Contracts: An Empirical Analysis
54 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2007
Date Written: December 2006
We analyze the structure and evolution of the allocation of decision and control rights in venture capital contracts by using a sample of 464 contracts between venture capitalists (VC) and portfolio firms from Germany. We focus on the evolution of control and decisions rights along three time dimensions: the point in time when the contract was signed, the expected duration of the contract and the actual duration of the relationship. We show that contracts are not static but that control rights are adjusted along all three time dimensions. First, we observe a change in the structure but not in the level of the VC's control rights during the relationship between the VC and the portfolio firm. While venture capitalists return superfluous operational rights to entrepreneurs, they gain (valuable) exit rights during the course of the relationship. Second, we show that the shorter the expected length of the VC's engagement the more control rights are allocated to the hands of the VC. Finally, we observe that learning took place in the German VC market.
Keywords: venture capital, corporate governance, empirical contract theory, control rights, exit rights
JEL Classification: G24, G32, D86, D80, G34
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