The course will examine the venture capital industry from both a theoretical and practical perspective and will focus on the interplay of the legal, business, economic and financial issues that need to be dealt with in the formation, organization, governance and financing of new enterprises. The course is designed to provide students with a fundamental knowledge of the corporate and other laws applicable to venture capital, as well as with an appreciation of the concerns of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and early employees. Class sessions will be devoted primarily to a discussion of business cases taken from the entrepreneurial curriculum of the Harvard Business School. In addition, students will be required to participate in small groups prior to class to prepare advice for entrepreneurs or key employees in three scenarios–an early stage company negotiating with a key executive the company is seeking to hire, a company considering two competing term sheets for venture financing and a company faced with the need for additional financing in a distressed situation. As a capstone to the class, students will participate in an in-class business simulation game developed at Wharton that will require students to interact in assigned roles as founders, investors or key employees. In addition to reading and analyzing the assigned business cases prior to class, students will be asked to review various background materials. Classes will meet for at least six hours per week, with additional sessions scheduled for meetings with outside industry experts that accept invitations to address the class.
The Class: Format: lecture
Grading: pass/fail only
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: participation in class & in business simulation game, prep of discussion outlines (each equivalent to 3- to 4-page paper) in connection with the small group assignments.
Enrollment Preferences: preference for seniors
Unit Notes: Mr. Schwed retired from the law firm of WilmerHale in December 2015 after a 40-year career focused on private equity and venture capital. For nine years, he was an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School teaching a course on venture capital law. He has taught this course during Winter Study for four years. Mr. Schwed graduated from Williams with a degree in Economics in 1971 and from Harvard Law School in 1974.
Materials/Lab Fee: $150