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Size and Focus of a Venture Capitalist's Portfolio

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  • Paolo Fulghieri

Abstract

We take a portfolio approach to analyze the investment strategy of a venture capitalist (VC) and show that portfolio size and scope affect both the entrepreneurs' and the VC's incentives to exert effort. A small portfolio improves entrepreneurial incentives because it allows the VC to concentrate the limited human capital on a smaller number of startups, adding more value. A large and focused portfolio is beneficial because it allows the VC to reallocate the limited resources and human capital in the case of startup failure and allows the VC to extract greater rents from the entrepreneurs. We show that the VC finds it optimal to limit portfolio size when startups have higher payoff potential--that is, when providing strong entrepreneurial incentives is most valuable. The VC expands portfolio size only when startup fundamentals are more moderate and when he can form a sufficiently focused portfolio. Finally, we show that the VC may find it optimal to engage in portfolio management by divesting some of the startups early since this strategy allows him to extract a greater surplus. The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Financial Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org., Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Paolo Fulghieri, 2009. "Size and Focus of a Venture Capitalist's Portfolio," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(11), pages 4643-4680, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:22:y:2009:i:11:p:4643-4680
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    Cited by:

    1. Obrimah, Oghenovo A., 2016. "Information production within the venture capital market: Implications for economic growth and development," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, pages 1-17.
    2. Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Phalippou, Ludovic & Gottschalg, Olivier, 2010. "Giants at the Gate: On the Cross-section of Private Equity Investment Returns," MPRA Paper 28487, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. repec:oup:rcorpf:v:3:y:2014:i:1-2:p:39-86. is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Rin, Marco Da & Hellmann, Thomas & Puri, Manju, 2013. "A Survey of Venture Capital Research," Handbook of the Economics of Finance, Elsevier.
    5. Monika Dhochak & Anil Kumar Sharma, 2016. "Using interpretive structural modeling in venture capitalists’ decision-making process," DECISION: Official Journal of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Springer;Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, vol. 43(1), pages 53-65, March.
    6. Kim, Jin-Hyuk & Wagman, Liad, 2014. "Portfolio size and information disclosure: An analysis of startup accelerators," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 520-534.
    7. MIYAKAWA Daisuke & TAKIZAWA Miho, 2015. "Capital Supply Channel through Venture Capitals: Evidence from matched data," Discussion papers 15141, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    8. repec:oup:rcorpf:v:4:y:2015:i:1:p:69-107. is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:oup:rcorpf:v:5:y:2016:i:2:p:166-199. is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Cabolis, Christos & Dai, Mian & Serfes, Konstantinos, 2014. "Competition and Specialization: Evidence from Venture Capital," School of Economics Working Paper Series 2014-5, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University, revised 05 Oct 2014.
    11. Obrimah, Oghenovo A., 2016. "How important is innovation for venture capitalists’ (VCs’) market reputation?," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 64-76.
    12. Salvatore Cantale & Dmitry Lukin, 2012. "Multiple-Project Financing with Informed Trading," Journal of Entrepreneurial Finance, Pepperdine University, Graziadio School of Business and Management, vol. 16(1), pages 1-28, Spring.
    13. Hsu, Hung-Chia Scott, 2013. "Technology timing of IPOs and venture capital incubation," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 36-55.
    14. Chemmanur, Thomas J. & Hull, Tyler J. & Krishnan, Karthik, 2016. "Do local and international venture capitalists play well together? The complementarity of local and international venture capitalists," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 573-594.
    15. Giot, Pierre & Hege, Ulrich & Schwienbacher, Armin, 2014. "Are novice private equity funds risk-takers? Evidence from a comparison with established funds," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 55-71.

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