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This site provides a number of resources for people in the venture capital industry. These tools were developed and are maintained by Will Gornall and Ilya Strebulaev.
Assistant Professor of Finance, University of British Columbia
Will Gornall is an Assistant Professor of Finance at the University of British Columbia. He is an expert on venture capital and innovation financing.
ILYA A. STREBULAEV
The David S. Lobel Professor of Private Equity, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
Ilya A. Strebulaev is the David S. Lobel Professor of Private Equity and Professor of Finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is an expert in corporate finance, venture capital, innovation financing, and financial decision-making. He is the faculty director of the Stanford GSB Venture Capital Initiative.
We develop a valuation model for venture capital--backed companies and apply it to 135 US unicorns, that is, private companies with reported valuations above $1 billion. We value unicorns using financial terms from legal filings and find that reported unicorn post--money valuations average 48% above fair value, with 14 being more than 100% above. Reported valuations assume that all shares are as valuable as the most recently issued preferred shares. We calculate values for each share class, which yields lower valuations because most unicorns gave recent investors major protections such as initial public offering (IPO) return guarantees (15%), vetoes over down-IPOs (24%), or seniority to all other investors (30%). Common shares lack all such protections and are 56% overvalued. After adjusting for these valuation-inflating terms, almost one-half (65 out of 135) of unicorns lose their unicorn status.
We survey 885 institutional venture capitalists (VCs) at 681 firms to learn how they make decisions across eight areas: deal sourcing; investment decisions; valuation; deal structure; post-investment value-added; exits; internal organization of firms; and relationships with limited partners. In selecting investments, VCs see the management team as more important than business related characteristics such as product or technology. They also attribute more of the likelihood of ultimate investment success or failure to the team than to the business. While deal sourcing, deal selection, and post-investment value-added all contribute to value creation, the VCs rate deal selection as the most important of the three. We also explore (and find) differences in practices across industry, stage, geography and past success. We compare our results to those for CFOs (Graham and Harvey 2001) and private equity investors (Gompers, Kaplan and Mukharlyamov forthcoming).
We study gender and race in high-impact entrepreneurship using a tightly controlled randomized field experiment. We sent out 80,000 pitch emails introducing promising but fictitious start-ups to 28,000 venture capitalists and angels. Each email was sent by a fictitious entrepreneur with a randomly selected gender (male or female) and race (Asian or White). Female entrepreneurs received a 9% higher rate of interested replies than male entrepreneurs pitching identical projects and Asian entrepreneurs received a 6% higher rate than their White counterparts. Our results suggest that investors do not discriminate against female or Asian entrepreneurs when evaluating unsolicited pitch emails.