Dense Networks and Access to Capital

What does it take for a university to produce alumni who get money to start companies? The alumni networks of four leading universities tell this story:

Alumni connections are important resources  that contribute to university evaluation. Even though alumni connections represent networks, they have been mostly evaluated as tabular data (e.g. by providing average salary, employment rate, etc.). This ironically disregards all qualities of a network, from which an alumni network gets its name. It is desirable to evaluate an alumni network as a network, because networks have the potential to provide very insightful information. Evaluation of alumni networks as a network has not been feasible in the past due to data fragmentation (neither universities nor companies willing to share meaningfully significant data in its entirety). Recently the feasibility of such an analysis has changed, due to new trends towards democratization of information, accelerated by the Web 2.0 user-generated content phenomenon and crowd-sourcing mentality. Utilizing web-crawlers, we actively harvested data and assembled a dataset on alumni in leadership positions in technology-based industries. Moreover, we include a high proportion of startup companies, which allowed us to evaluate alumni networks with respect to entrepreneurial as well as technology involvement. We show that by analyzing alumni connections as networks, it is possible  to uncover new patterns, as well as provide a new way of examining the old.

For more details please see: paper (pdf)

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