The Impact of Firm-Specific Capabilities on the Amount of Capital Raised in an Initial Public Offering: Evidence from the Biotechnology Industry



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Going “public” has a magical sound to most entrepreneurial managers. By going public the firm increases its legitimacy in the business community, improves access to debt financing, and creates a means of exit for major shareholders. However, by far the most important reason for going public is to infuse a significant amount of investment capital into the firm. It is well documented that small businesses frequently fail because of insufficient funding and heavy debt loads. Issuing an initial public offering (IPO) allows entrepreneurial firms to overcome these pitfalls. Clearly, if access to capital is the major goal of going public, then the success of an offering is measured by the amount of capital raised by the firm. This study presents a model of the total amount of capital raised by a firm through an IPO. The explanatory variables include several indicators of the scientific capabilities of the firm including the location of the firm, the quality of the research staff, the number of products under development, the number of patents held by the firm, and the firm's prior spending on research and development (R&D). The model is empirically tested on a sample of 92 biotechnology IPOs. The results provide strong support for the hypothesized positive relationship between the total amount of capital raised by a firm's IPO and the scientific capabilities of the firm.

Our results have important implications for entrepreneurs. First, an entrepreneur needs to develop and send credible signals indicating the value of the firm's intangible assets to the market. Second, the market values as deep a product pipeline as possible given a firm's resource constraints. Third, choice of location is a key strategic decision that should not be overlooked. Fourth, the market values firm-specific capabilities and will increase the capital it is willing to invest in a firm accordingly. Finally, the amount of capital a firm raises in its IPO can be influenced by entrepreneurial managers' strategic decisions.

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Journal of Business Venturing

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Journal of Business Venturing, vol. 12, issue 1, pp. 31-46.