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Entrepreneurial Finance and the Flat-World Hypothesis: Evidence from Crowd-Funding Entrepreneurs in the Arts



We examine the geography of early stage entrepreneurial finance in the context of an internet marketplace for funding new musical artist-entrepreneurs. A large body of research documents that investors in early-stage projects are disproportionately co-located with the entrepreneur. Theory predicts this will be particularly true of artist-entrepreneurs with preliminary-stage projects, difficult-to-contract-for effort, difficult-to-observe creativity, negligible tangible assets, and limited reputations. At the same time, however, observers of the spatial effects of the internet and related technologies report that many economic activities have become much less geographically dependent. At an aggregate level, the internet marketplace we examine does indeed demonstrate a spatial transformation of the entrepreneurial finance process: the average distance between investors and artist-entrepreneurs is 4,831 km. However, geography still matters; investors are disproportionately likely to be local and, conditional on investing, local investors invest more. This apparent role for proximity is strongest before entrepreneurs visibly accumulate capital. Within a single round of financing, local investors are more likely to engage earlier in the funding cycle. However, this difference in the timing of investment is almost entirely explained by a particular type of investor, whom we characterize as ``family, friends, and fans." We conjecture that these individuals, who are disproportionately co-located with the entrepreneur, have offline information about the entrepreneur and therefore derive less new information from observing the aggregate financing raised. We speculate that the path-dependent role of this offline network in conveying information to the online community limits the ``flat world'' potential of these communication technologies.

Suggested Citation

  • Ajay Agrawal & Christian Catalini & Avi Goldfarb, 2010. "Entrepreneurial Finance and the Flat-World Hypothesis: Evidence from Crowd-Funding Entrepreneurs in the Arts," Working Papers 10-08, NET Institute, revised Sep 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
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    3. Chris Forman & Anindya Ghose & Avi Goldfarb, 2009. "Competition Between Local and Electronic Markets: How the Benefit of Buying Online Depends on Where You Live," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(1), pages 47-57, January.
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    6. Partridge Mark D. & Rickman Dan S & Ali Kamar & Olfert M. Rose, 2008. "Employment Growth in the American Urban Hierarchy: Long Live Distance," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-38, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wessel, Michael & Thies, Ferdinand & Benlian, Alexander, 2015. "The Effects of Relinquishing Control in Platform Ecosystems: Implications from a Policy Change on Kickstarter," Publications of Darmstadt Technical University, Institute for Business Studies (BWL) 75205, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute for Business Studies (BWL).
    2. Alin-Cristian Joiţa & Floarea Năstase, 2014. "Seeding Phase Software Architecture Model For Virtual Business Incubators," Romanian Economic Business Review, Romanian-American University, vol. 8(2), pages 474-487, December.

    More about this item


    Entrepreneurial nance; crowd-funding; internet; family and friends; local bias; social networks;

    JEL classification:

    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • L17 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Open Source Products and Markets
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage

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