The Leveraging of Silicon Valley
Early-stage firms utilize venture debt in one-third of financing rounds despite their general lack of cash flow and collateral. In our model, we show how venture debt aligns incentives within a firm. We derive a novel theoretical channel in which runway extension through debt increases firm value while potentially lowering closure. Consistent with the model's mechanism, we find that dilution predicts venture debt issuance. Empirically, treatment with venture debt lowers closure hazard by 1.6-4.4% and increases successful exits by 4.3-5.3%. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest $41B, or 9.4% of invested capital, remains productive due to venture debt.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27591