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The Incentives to Start New Companies: Evidence from Venture Capital

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  • Robert E. Hall
  • Susan E. Woodward

Abstract

The standard venture-capital contract rewards entrepreneurs only for creating successful companies that go public or are acquired on favorable terms. As a result, entrepreneurs receive no help from venture capital in avoiding the huge idiosyncratic risk of the typical venture-backed startup. Entrepreneurs earned an average of $9 million from each company that succeeded in attracting venture funding. But entrepreneurs are generally specialized in their own companies and bear the burden of the idiosyncratic risk. Entrepreneurs with a coefficient of relative risk aversion of two would be willing to sell their interests for less than $1 million at the outset rather than face that risk. The standard financial contract provides entrepreneurs capital supplied by passive investors and rewards entrepreneurs for successful outcomes. We track the division of value for a sample of the great majority of U.S. venture-funded companies over the period form 1987 through 2005. Venture capitalists received an average of $5 million in fee revenue from each company they backed. The outside investors in venture capital received a financial return substantially above that of publicly traded companies, but that the excess is mostly a reward for bearing risk. The pure excess return measured by the alpha of the Capital Asset Pricing Model is positive but may reflect only random variation.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. Hall & Susan E. Woodward, 2007. "The Incentives to Start New Companies: Evidence from Venture Capital," NBER Working Papers 13056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13056
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Satyajit Chatterjee & Esteban Rossiā€Hansberg, 2012. "Spinoffs And The Market For Ideas," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(1), pages 53-93, February.
    2. Pablo Kurlat, 2016. "The Social Value of Financial Expertise," NBER Working Papers 22047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Arthur Korteweg & Stefan Nagel, 2016. "Risk-Adjusting the Returns to Venture Capital," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 71(3), pages 1437-1470, June.
    4. Robert E. Hall & Susan E. Woodward, 2010. "The Burden of the Nondiversifiable Risk of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1163-1194, June.
    5. Nikolai Roussanov, 2010. "Diversification and Its Discontents: Idiosyncratic and Entrepreneurial Risk in the Quest for Social Status," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(5), pages 1755-1788, October.
    6. repec:wsi:ijitmx:v:11:y:2014:i:04:n:s0219877014500199 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Michael D. McKenzie & William H. Janeway, 2011. "Venture capital funds and the public equity market," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 51(3), pages 764-786, September.
    8. Pablo Kurlat, 2017. "The Social Value of Financial Expertise," 2017 Meeting Papers 134, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Katya Kartashova, 2011. "The Private Equity Premium Puzzle Revisited," Staff Working Papers 11-6, Bank of Canada.
    10. Ibragimov, Rustam, 2014. "On the robustness of location estimators in models of firm growth under heavy-tailedness," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 181(1), pages 25-33.
    11. Yao-Wen Hsu, 2010. "Staging of venture capital investment: a real options analysis," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 265-281, October.
    12. Thomas Philippon & Yuliy Sannikov, 2007. "Real Options in a Dynamic Agency Model, with Applications to Financial Development, IPOs, and Business Risk," NBER Working Papers 13584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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