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Venture Capital and Sequential Investments

  • Dirk Bergemann
  • Ulrich Hege
  • Liang Peng

We present a dynamic model of venture capital financing, described as a sequential investment problem with uncertain outcome. Each venture has a critical, but unknown threshold beyond which it cannot progress. If the threshold is reached before the completion of the project, then the project fails, otherwise it succeeds. The investors decide sequentially about the speed of the investment and the optimal path of staged investments. We derive the dynamically optimal funding policy in response to the arrival of information during the development of the venture. We develop three types of predictions from our theoretical model and test these predictions in a large sample of venture capital investments in the U.S. for the period of 1987-2002. First, the investment flow starts low if the failure risk is high and accelerates as the projects mature. Second, the investment flow reacts positively to information that arrives while the project is developed. We find that the investment decisions are more sensitive to the information received during the development than to the information held prior to the project launch. Third, investors distribute their investments over more funding rounds if the failure risk is larger.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 814577000000000046.

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Date of creation: 15 Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:814577000000000046
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  1. Kaplan, Steven & Strömberg, Per Johan, 2000. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets The Real World: An Empirical Analysis Of Venture Capital Contracts," CEPR Discussion Papers 2421, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Repullo, Rafael & Suarez, Javier, 1999. "Venture Capital Finance: A Security Design Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 2097, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Cochrane, John H., 2005. "The risk and return of venture capital," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 3-52, January.
  4. Inderst, Roman & Muller, Holger M., 2004. "The effect of capital market characteristics on the value of start-up firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 319-356, May.
  5. Michelacci, Claudio & Suarez, Javier, 2002. "Business Creation and the Stock Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 3513, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Biais, Bruno & Mariotti, Thomas & Plantin, Guillaume & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2004. "Dynamic Security Design: Convergence to Continuous Time and Asset Pricing Implications," IDEI Working Papers 312, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Sep 2006.
  7. Carsten Bienz & Julia Hirsch, 2011. "The Dynamics of Venture Capital Contracts," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 16(1), pages 157-195.
  8. Boyan Jovanovic & Balàzs Szentes, 2007. "On the Return to Venture Capital," NBER Working Papers 12874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. Neher, Darwin V, 1999. "Staged Financing: An Agency Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 255-74, April.
  11. Paul Gompers & Anna Kovner & Josh Lerner & David Scharfstein, 2005. "Venture Capital Investment Cycles: The Impact of Public Markets," NBER Working Papers 11385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. PETER M. DeMARZO & YULIY SANNIKOV, 2006. "Optimal Security Design and Dynamic Capital Structure in a Continuous-Time Agency Model," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(6), pages 2681-2724, December.
  13. Gompers, Paul & Lerner, Josh, 2000. "Money chasing deals? The impact of fund inflows on private equity valuation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 281-325, February.
  14. Scherer, F. M. & Harhoff, Dietmar, 2000. "Technology policy for a world of skew-distributed outcomes," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4-5), pages 559-566, April.
  15. Alexander Ljungqvist & Matthew Richardson & Daniel Wolfenzon, 2008. "The Investment Behavior of Buyout Funds: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 14180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Jonathan B. Berk, 2004. "Valuation and Return Dynamics of New Ventures," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 17(1), pages 1-35.
  17. William Goetzmann & Liang Peng, 2006. "Estimating House Price Indexes in the Presence of Seller Reservation Prices," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 100-112, February.
  18. Gompers, Paul A, 1995. " Optimal Investment, Monitoring, and the Staging of Venture Capital," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1461-89, December.
  19. Peter M. DeMarzo & Michael J. Fishman, 2007. "Optimal Long-Term Financial Contracting," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 20(6), pages 2079-2128, November.
  20. Gompers, Paul A., 1996. "Grandstanding in the venture capital industry," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 133-156, September.
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