Date of Original Version

7-2012

Type

Working Paper

Rights Management

All Rights Reserved

Abstract or Description

The switch from equity to debt in venture capital-backed entrepreneurial firms is rare, but uniquely informative. Using a novel dataset of financing decisions, we find that entrepreneurial firms that raise debt financing suffer from an average 40% post-debt valuation drop and a 26% lower probability of successful exit (IPO/acquisition). Venture capitalists with equity stakes lend to lower quality entrepreneurial firms compared to outside lenders, and debt from both precedes deterioration in firm quality. Our results do not imply that debt causes negative outcomes. Rather, we argue that debt helps maintain incentive alignment after adverse shocks to firm quality.

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