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Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls: Fiduciary Duties In Venture Capital Backed Startups, Sarath Sanga, Eric L. Talley Jan 2020

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls: Fiduciary Duties In Venture Capital Backed Startups, Sarath Sanga, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Venture-capital-backed startups are often crucibles of conflict between common and preferred shareholders, particularly around exit decisions. Such conflicts are so common, in fact, that they have catalyzed an emergent judicial precedent – the Trados doctrine – that requires boards to prioritize common shareholders' interest and to treat preferred shareholders as contractual claimants. We evaluate the Trados doctrine using a model of startup governance that interacts capital structure, corporate governance, and liability rules. The nature and degree of inter-shareholder conflict turns not only on the relative rights and options of equity participants, but also on a firm's intrinsic value as well as ...


Locating Innovation: The Endogeneity Of Technology, Organizational Structure, And Financial Contracting, Ronald J. Gilson Jan 2010

Locating Innovation: The Endogeneity Of Technology, Organizational Structure, And Financial Contracting, Ronald J. Gilson

Faculty Scholarship

There is much we do not understand about the "location" of innovation: the confluence, for a particular innovation, of the technology associated with the innovation; the innovating firm's size and organizational structure; and the financial contracting that supports the innovation. This Essay suggests that these three indicia are determined simultaneously and discusses the interaction among them through four examples of innovative activity whose location is characterized by tradeoffs between pursuing the activity in an established company, in a smaller, earlier-stage company, or some combination of the two. It first considers the dilemma faced by an established company in deciding ...


Locating Innovation: The Endogeneity Of Technology, Organizational Structure And Financial Contracting, Ronald J. Gilson Jan 2009

Locating Innovation: The Endogeneity Of Technology, Organizational Structure And Financial Contracting, Ronald J. Gilson

Faculty Scholarship

There is much we do not understand about the “location” of innovation: the confluence, for a particular innovation, of the technology associated with the innovation, the innovating firm’s size and organizational structure, and the financial contracting that supports the innovation. This Essay suggests that these three indicia are simultaneously determined and discusses the interaction among them through four examples of innovative activity whose location is characterized by tradeoffs between pursuing the activity in an established company; in a smaller, earlier stage company; or some combination of the two. It first considers the dilemma faced by an established company in ...


Patents, Venture Capital, And Software Start-Ups, Ronald J. Mann, Thomas W. Sager Jan 2005

Patents, Venture Capital, And Software Start-Ups, Ronald J. Mann, Thomas W. Sager

Faculty Scholarship

This paper analyzes the relation between the patenting behavior of startup firms and the progress of those firms through the venture capital cycle. Linking data relating to venture capital financing of software startup firms with data concerning the patents obtained by those firms, we find significant and robust positive correlations between patenting and several variables measuring the firm's performance (including number of rounds, total investment, exit status, receipt of late stage financing, and longevity). The data also show that (1) only about one in four venture-backed software firms acquired even one patent during the period of the study; (2 ...


Do Patents Facilitate Financing In The Software Industry?, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2005

Do Patents Facilitate Financing In The Software Industry?, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

This Article is the first part of a wide study of the role of intellectual property in the software industry. Unlike previous papers that focus primarily on software patents – which generally are held by firms that are not software firms – this Article provides a thorough and contextually grounded description of the role that patents play in the software industry itself.

The bulk of the Article considers the pros and cons of patents in the software industry. The Article starts by emphasizing the difficulties that prerevenue startups face in obtaining any value from patents. Litigation to enforce patents is impractical for ...


Do Patents Facilitate Financing In The Software Industry?, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2005

Do Patents Facilitate Financing In The Software Industry?, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

This paper is the first part of a wide-ranging study of the role of intellectual property in the software industry. Unlike previous papers that focus primarily on software patents – which generally are held by firms that are not software firms – this Article provides a thorough and contextually grounded description of the role that patents play in the software industry itself.

The bulk of the Article considers the pros and cons of patents in the software industry. The Article starts by emphasizing the difficulties that prerevenue startups face in obtaining any value from patents. Litigation to enforce patents is impractical for ...


An Empirical Investigation Of Liquidation Choices Of Failed High-Tech Firms, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2005

An Empirical Investigation Of Liquidation Choices Of Failed High-Tech Firms, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

This paper compares a dataset of failed venture-backed firms to information about the firm's liquidation choices. The first finding is that firms in California are much less likely to use the bankruptcy process than firms in other states, largely because of their ability to use a cheaper and less formal assignment for the benefit of creditors procedure. The paper explores a number of reasons why that procedure succeeds in California more than it does elsewhere, including differences in statutory support for the procedure, the sophistication of market participants in California, the close-knit venture communities in California, and unusual rules ...


An Empirical Investigation Of Liquidation Choices Of Failed High Tech Firms, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2004

An Empirical Investigation Of Liquidation Choices Of Failed High Tech Firms, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

Perhaps it is merely a reflection of my interests, but to my mind, empirical research requires a certain risk-preferent boldness. I like projects that explore how and why particular businesses make important decisions. After I identify a topic, I typically try to gather as much qualitative and quantitative information about it as I can, with the expectation that when I have learned a great deal about the topic something interesting will emerge that relates in some important way to an ongoing academic debate. Those projects usually do not begin with a specific hypothesis to prove or disprove-often either answer will ...


Engineering A Venture Capital Market: Lessons From The American Experience, Ronald J. Gilson Jan 2003

Engineering A Venture Capital Market: Lessons From The American Experience, Ronald J. Gilson

Faculty Scholarship

The venture capital market and firms whose creation and early stages were financed by venture capital are among the crown jewels of the American economy. Beyond representing an important engine of macroeconomic growth and job creation, these firms have been a major force in commercializing cutting-edge science, whether through their impact on existing industries as with the radical changes in pharmaceuticals catalyzed by venture-backed firms' commercialization of biotechnology, or by their role in developing entirely new industries as with the emergence of the Internet and World Wide Web. The venture capital market thus provides a unique link between finance and ...


Engineering A Venture Capital Market: Lessons From The American Experience, Ronald J. Gilson Jan 2002

Engineering A Venture Capital Market: Lessons From The American Experience, Ronald J. Gilson

Faculty Scholarship

This paper seeks to identify the core of the U.S. venture capital contracting model, and then assess the extent to which the model provides guidance in engineering venture capital markets in other countries and, in particular, in identifying a viable role for government in assisting that project. All financial contracts respond to three central contracting problems: uncertainty, information asymmetry and opportunism in the form of agency costs. The special character of venture capital contracting is shaped by the fact that investing in early stage, high technology companies presents these problems in extreme form. The genius of U.S. venture ...