Research: Distance Impacts Structure of VC Funding


What do we know about venture capital — other than there isn’t quite as much in play today as in recent years?

In a recently compiled list of the most active VC firms in 2008, 40 were located in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Another 18 of the firms doing the most business were in Massachusetts. That distribution is nothing new.

Whether that fact makes it more difficult for Indiana and other Midwest companies to obtain funding is an age-old question. Some say it is a distinct disadvantage for Hoosiers, while others contend good ideas will find the money no matter the location.

Research from Xuan Tian, an assistant professor of finance at IU’s Kelley School of Business, finds that if companies do receive funds, the overall level is not impacted by distance. The structure of the financing, however, is subject to variances based on proximity.

The State Science & Technology Institute summarizes it this way:

Companies located farther from their venture investors receive more frequent rounds of financing with lower cash amounts per round. According to the study, this difference is attributable to the higher cost of monitoring companies that are farther away.

Investee companies that are located near their investors are able to meet with them regularly, minimizing the risk to the investor and the cost of gathering information.

Tian argues that monitoring and the staging of funding rounds are substitutes for each other. With the low-cost monitoring that is possible with nearby firms, venture firms can afford the larger risks associated with large, infrequent cash infusions. The cost of monitoring more distant companies means that venture firms are less willing to take those risks. More frequent funding rounds give investors the option of dropping a company that is not meeting its goals, with fewer losses.

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