Feb 15th: Will Gornall
A Valuation Model of Venture Capital-Backed Companies with Multiple Financing Rounds by Will Gornall (UBC) and Ilya Strebulaev (Stanford GSB)
This paper develops the first option pricing model of venture capital-backed companies and their security values that incorporates the dilutive future financing rounds prevalent in the industry. Applying our model to 19,000 companies raising 37,000 rounds shows post-money valuations exceed fair values by 39%. Ignoring future rounds overstates the valuation impact of liquidation preferences by more than 100%. Counterintuitively, future “investor-friendly” rounds transfer value from current investors to founders and other common shareholders. Future terms closely resemble current terms, which makes current “investor-friendly” terms much less valuable to investors. Our valuations predict outcomes and the prices reported by specialized venture capital investors but are lower than values reported by mutual funds and dramatically higher than the values companies report for tax purposes.