The venture capital industry in the United States has grown dramatically over the last two decades. Annual inflows to venture funds have expanded from virtually zero in the mid-1970s to more than $9 billion in 1997. Many of the most visible new firms—including Apple Computer, Genentech, Intel, Lotus, Microsoft, and Yahoo—have been backed by venture capital funds. Yet despite this tremendous growth and its visible success, venture capital remains a mysterious industry. Numerous misconceptions persist about the nature and role of venture capitalists. Paul Gompers and Josh Lerner's extensive research on venture capital organizations is based largely on original data sets developed through close relationships with institutional investors in venture capital funds and investment advisors. The Venture Capital Cycle synthesizes their path-breaking work. After a historical overview, the book looks at the formation of funds, the investment of the funds in operating companies, and the liquidation of these investments. The concluding chapter provides a road map for future research in this growing area. Three themes run throughout the book. The first is that all venture capitalists confront tremendous incentive and information problems. The second is that because the various stages of the venture capital processes are related, the entire process is best viewed as a cycle. The third is that, unlike most financial markets, the venture capital industry adjusts very slowly to shifts in the supply of capital and the demand for financing.