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Resolving Tensions between Heterogeneous Investors in a Startup

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Management Science
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Legal scholars highlight the tensions that exist between different classes of shareholders in startups. We model a startup owned by undiversified investors with heterogeneous capital contributions and risk preferences. A social planner runs the firm on behalf of all investors. We compare investors' expected utility with a hypothetical first-best decentralized benchmark. The startup's optimal investment policy is pro-cyclical and a time-varying weighted average of shareholders' optimal investment policies. The optimal contracts issued to investors are tailor-made, interdependent, and include equity claims resembling preferred stock with heterogeneous payout caps, leading to a complex capitalization table as more investors join the startup.