Essays on Corporate Venture Capital, Firm Dynamics, and Aggregate Growth

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This dissertation studies the impact of corporate venture capital (CVC) on firm dynamics, innovation, and aggregate economic growth. In Chapter 1, I examine whether and how CVC enables funded young firms to rapidly grow, relative to the effect of traditional venture capital (TVC). I formalize the hypothesis that CVC can improve young firm outcomes through demand and/or technology spillovers using a simple model of VC financing and young firm innovation. To test the hypothesis, I assemble a micro-level dataset that links each U.S. VC-funded firm to its funder(s) and subsequent patenting and exit outcomes. To address endogenous investment relationships and to separately identify the causal effects of CVC and TVC in the presence of CVC-TVC syndication, I employ a shift-share research design that predicts both forms of investment at the industry level using the interaction of the initial market shares of different funders and several instruments for funder-specific supply shifts. My estimates reveal that the effect of CVC is as large as the effect of TVC. Moreover, the effect of CVC is found to be stronger when the funded firm is upstream with respect to the CVC funder in the Input-Output matrix and downstream in the patent citation matrix, lending support to the hypothesized demand and technology channels of CVC.

Chapter 2 investigates the effect of CVC on one form of strategic payoffs to funding firms: corporate innovation. I construct and analyze a micro-level dataset that links CVC investments to U.S. publicly traded firms and their patenting activities. I track the funding firms before and after starting CVC, in comparison to a group of control firms defined by firm size, age, industry, and prior growth. I find that CVC leads to an increase in patenting rate at the funding firms. Importantly, much of the effect is driven by smaller-sized funding firms, informing the potential relationship between CVC and internal innovation across the firm size distribution.

Chapter 3 explores the implications of CVC for aggregate economic outcomes. I develop a growth model featuring CVC and endogenous firm innovation that is consistent with a set of facts on U.S. CVC, including (i) the selection of large and highly innovative firms into making CVC investment and (ii) positive treatment effects associated with CVC on both the funded and funding firms, measured by innovation outcomes. In equilibrium, firms engaged in CVC benefit from positive treatment that makes them innovate more, whereas other firms reduce innovation as they face more intense competition. These forces in turn affect firm selection and the incentives for new entrepreneurship. Quantitative analysis suggests that a higher level of CVC activity leads to an overall increase in aggregate growth, a fall in entry, and a fattening of the firm size distribution at both tails.