Board Dynamics Over the Startup Life Cycle

Board Dynamics Over the Startup Life Cycle

Michael Ewens, Nadya Malenko

Series number :

Serial Number: 

Date posted :

July 09 2020

Last revised :

January 25 2022
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  • venture capital • 
  • board of directors • 
  • Corporate governance • 
  • Independent Directors • 
  • Mediation

We explore the dynamics of venture capital (VC)-backed startup boards using novel data on director entry, exit, and characteristics. At formation, a typical board is entrepreneur-controlled. Independent directors join the median board after the second financing, when control becomes shared, and hold a tie-breaking vote.

Their presence is particularly likely when the potential for VC-entrepreneur conflicts is higher. At later stages, control switches to VCs and independent director characteristics change. These patterns are consistent with independent directors playing both a mediating and advising role over the startup life cycle, and thus representing another potential source of value-add to startup performance.


Real name:
Michael Ewens