The first important fact about firm heterogeneity and innovation is that corporate R&D expenditures scale up proportionately with their sales. In other words, when sales double, money spent on R&D doubles too. A variety of different lines of evidence show that firms get fewer inventions per R&D dollar as they grow. Finally, when large and established firms actually do innovation resulting in observable products and services, it is more likely to be directed toward improving existing products rather than creating new ones. The bigger a firm is, the more it tries to improve its existing products. Patent evidence also points to larger firms engaging in more incremental innovation. Akcigit and Kerr also find that larger firms are more likely to cite their own patents, which is an indication that they are hewing close to the intellectual landscape they have previously explored.
- Date Posted:
- June 1, 2023
We took a look at all PE/VC-owned public companies, or companies with public debt, that were 30%+ sponsor-owned, had IPOed since 2018, had a recognizable sponsor as the largest holder, and were headquartered in North America. Today, the entire sample trades at 22.4x pro-forma EBITDA, which is roughly in line with the Russell 2000 Growth, where the median company trades at 20.7x EBITDA. However, for companies in our sample that reported both pro-forma and GAAP EBITDA, this includes 500bps of adjustments. On a GAAP basis, these companies trade at 33.4x EBITDA with 8.8x net debt/EBITDA. The sample of companies we looked at is nearly unprofitable on an EBITDA basis, mostly cash flow negative, and extraordinarily leveraged (mostly with floating-rate debt that is now costing nearly 12%). These companies trade at a dramatic premium to public markets on a GAAP basis, only reaching comparability after massive amounts of pro-forma adjustments. And these are the companies that most likely reflect the better outcomes in private equity.