Venture Capital is financial capital provided to early-stage startup companies with a high potential for growth after the early growth funding round, also known as seed funding. These companies are aiming for eventual initial public offerings or even a trade sale. They are attracted to venture capital because most of them are too small to raise capital in the public markets, secure bank loans, or even complete debt offerings. As the investment is high risk, most venture capitalists gain significant control over company decisions and a large portion of the company’s ownership.
Venture Capital (VC) law involves many financing and M&A transactions, including public/private and private/private mergers, as well as acquisitions, extensive strategic partnering transactions (i.e., licensing matters, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), reseller and Value Added Reseller (VAR) arrangements, technology development partnerships and other joint ventures). This type of law also includes many non-VC financing transactions involving the private and public sale of debt and equity securities.
Lawyers serving as primary counsel to emerging company clients are often viewed as outside general counsel. Lawyers provide extensive operational counsel on a wide range of matters that are pivotal for the emerging company and its investors, including employment matters, compensation issues, intellectual property protection, enforcement and monetization, and policy work. Understanding the client's technology and the market in which it competes is crucial for the success of these operations.
Young companies interested in venture capital usually have rare, highly sought after qualities, such as innovative technology, the potential for rapid growth, or impressive business models and management teams. Because of the high risk and the need for high returns, venture funding is an expensive capital source for companies and explains its prevalence in fast-growing technological areas including cleantech and the life sciences. Depending on a venture capital legal practice's size and availability of resources, startup clients may rely on them for virtually everything legal and quasi-legal. Entrepreneurs will involve their legal counsel in all of their new ventures and investor clients frequently refer their portfolio companies to the legal counsel.
Ralph “Buddy” Arnheim