Venture Capitalists and COVID-19
Paul A. Gompers, Will Gornall, Steven Neil Kaplan, Ilya A. Strebulaev
Social Science Research Network
We survey over one thousand institutional and corporate venture capitalists (VCs) on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their decisions and investments. Although individual funds and portfolio companies have been dramatically impacted, VCs expect aggregate returns to be largely unchanged because winners have offset losers. This suggests the primary impact of COVID-19 has been an increase in volatility and uncertainty. Consistent with that, VCs report initially delaying investment due to a
... fficulty evaluating deals and an expectation that future financings will offer investors more downside protections. We find only moderate evidence of disruption to VC capital flows, with investment expected to be down less than one-fifth, and only one-sixth of VCs reporting any pressure from limited partners to conserve capital. Despite the historical importance of in-person meetings, VCs do not report difficulty finding quality entrepreneurs. We also find little change in how VC allocate their time in the pandemic compared to before the pandemic. Finally, our outcome measures are not correlated with local COVID-19 impact. * We thank Patrick Sweeney and Amanda Ying Wang for their research assistance as well as Sabrina Howell and Ramana Nanda for helpful comments and discussion. We thank the Kauffman Fellows Program, Harvard Business School, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business for providing us access to their members and alumni. We thank Jeff Harbach and Collin West of the Kauffman Fellows Program for their help in disseminating the survey. We particularly thank and are very grateful to our survey respondents. Gompers, Kaplan, and Strebulaev have consulted for general partners and limited partners investing in venture capital. Gornall thanks the SSHRC and CIDER for their financial support.