Essays on entrepreneurial finance: the role of corporate venture capital and its performance implications

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Kang, Hyunsung Daniel
Higgins, Matthew
Nanda, Vikram
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My dissertation is focused on developing a better understanding of the technology and innovation strategies of corporations and their impacts on firm performance. I am particularly interested in corporate venture capital (CVC), which serves as a strategy for accessing external technology for corporate investors and as an alternative source of financing and complementary assets for start-ups. I have investigated the conditions under which corporate investors and start-ups achieve the strategic goals by establishing CVC ties, and on estimating the technological and financial gains created by the CVC ties. Specifically, I have concentrated on when and where CVC ties are established in order to maximize economic value. The former relates to a timing issue, whereas the latter is a space issue of CVC investments. In the first essay, I examine corporate investors' decisions to establish CVC ties and their subsequent strategic actions. Consistent with the real options perspective on CVC investments, I find that CVC investments can help corporate investors effectively search for and select future acquisition or licensing partners by reducing asymmetric information and uncertainty that may characterize markets for technology. Specifically, CVC investments facilitate the external acquisition of technology by substituting for a corporate investor's absorptive capacity, as reflected by its upstream research capabilities. CVC investments instead complement the portfolio of internally generated new products, since they allow highly productive corporate investors to shift their focus onto exploratory initiatives with the objective of selecting future technology and partners. Finally, CVC investments facilitate exploratory investments in distant technological areas that are subsequently integrated through licensing or acquisitions. These findings contribute to emerging research on the organization and financing patterns of external R&D activities. In the second essay, I investigate the nature of the relationship between technological spillovers and capital gains created by CVC investments for corporate investors. Using a simple equilibrium model and data from the global bio-pharmaceutical industry between 1986 and 2007, I find that these technological spillovers and capital gains are complements. This complementarity is enhanced when CVC investments are made in post-IPO and technologically diversified start-ups. Beyond providing a broad benchmark for heterogeneous returns on CVC investments, this study has important implications for corporate investors and start-ups. In particular, to the extent that capital gain is greatly determined by changes in the market values of start-ups, it implies that CVC investments can create value for start-ups as well as corporate investors. These mutual benefits can be greatly determined by when (e.g., post-IPO start-ups) and where (e.g., technologically diversified start-ups) CVC investments are made. In the third essay, I analyze the contextual factors that impact the probability of start-ups' obtaining financing through independent venture capitalists and corporate investors. The systematic empirical evidence based on a three-stage game theoretic model suggests that start-ups that possess better evaluated technology tend to be financed through independent venture capitalists, rather than corporate investors. In contrast, start-ups tend to be financed through corporate investors, rather than independent venture capitalists, when their intellectual properties are effectively protected and their research pipelines contain multiple products. These findings provide a theoretical basis to explain why several types of investors co-exist in the entrepreneurial financing market. Moreover, the existence of such determinants indicates that, although investors traditionally have been viewed as the powerful partner that dominates the investment decision, start-ups are also active decision makers in investment ties.
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