There are several pitfalls to dealing with a venture capital firm that is on shaky financial footing, writes Sam Hogg, a partner at Open Prairie Ventures. Investors will still want a return on their money, but the firm may be reduced to a shell of its former self. In extreme cases, the firm may call on another company to handle its portfolio, which could pressure entrepreneurs to liquidate. "If you don't see any activity for, say, the last five years, be wary," Hogg writes. "You could be looking at a firm that's dying a predetermined slow death."

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