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Cambridge Endowment for Research in Finance (CERF)


VCs – equity investors in new companies – are understood to have a crucial impact on the commercialisation of technological innovation and new economic actors. Building on earlier work in economics, I want to understand how exactly early stage venture capitalists make investment decisions and add value to the companies they invest in by conducting ethnographic fieldwork in San Francisco and New York. By adding both an anthropological and a comparative perspective – between Europe (DE, UK) where I have already conducted fieldwork with 100+ VC partners and the US – I will provide detailed cases to fill the gaps left open by many quantitative approaches.
Activities and Achievement: The (ethnographic) data collection phase has been finished with a last field trip to New York City in December 2021 after a big delay due to Covid-19. I conducted an additional set of interviews with investors during my recent trip adding to the four months I spent in San Francisco (May-July 2019) and New York (August 2019) as well as several months in Berlin (2019 and 2020). Altogether, I have conducted more than five hundred interviews with VC partners (and some junior investor), people running accelerators and angel investors and asset owners (LPs) between San Francisco, Palo Alto, New York, London and Berlin. A proportion of the interviews has already been transcribed (by myself and my research assistants) while I have detailed notes for the others.

PI: Johannes Felix Lenhard (Social Anthropology / Max Cam)

Project Period: February 2019 - October 2020

Project Update - August 2021

Project Update - April 2021

Project Update - August 2020

Project Update - April 2020

Project Update - August 2019