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The composer of the term “venture capital” is unknown, and there is no standard definition of it. It is, however, generally agreed that the traditional venture-capital era began in earnest in 1946, when General Georges Doriot, Ralph Flanders, Karl Compton, Merrill Griswold and others organized American Research & Development (AR&D), the first (and, after it went public, for many years the only) public corporation specializing in investing in illiquid securities of early stage issuers.

One way to define traditional “venture capital,” therefore, is to repeat General Doriot’s rules of investing, the thought being that an investment process entailing Doriot’s rules is, by definition, a venture-capital process. According to Doriot, investments considered by AR&D involved:

  • new technology, new marketing concepts, and new product application possibilities;
  • a significant, although not necessarily controlling, participation by the investors in the company’s management;
  • investment in ventures staffed by people of outstanding competence and integrity (herein the rule often referred to in venture capital as “bet the jockey, not the horse”);
  • products or processes which have passed through at least the early prototype stage and are adequately protected by patents, copyrights, or trade-secret agreements (the latter rule is often referred to as investing in situations where the information is “proprietary” (proprietary information));
  • situations which show promise to mature within a few years to the point of an initial public offering or a sale of the entire company (commonly referred to as the “exit strategy”);
  • opportunities in which the venture capitalist can make a contribution beyond the capital dollars invested (often referred to as the “value-added strategy”).

Thomas  Duffy, CEO
Venture Capital International, LLC.

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