The CEO Beauty Premium

Abstract: How do top executives’ physical attributes impact firm value? Our study combines Upper Echelons Theory (UET) with insights from social psychology and labor economics to investigate how Chief Executive Officers’ (CEOs’) facial attractiveness influences firm valuation by investors in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). We document a pronounced CEO beauty premium. The positive relationship between CEO attractiveness and firm valuation is not driven by stereotype-based evaluations; that is, investors do not mistake attractiveness for other latent traits, such as competence, intelligence, likeability, or trustworthiness. Rather, CEO attractiveness seems to bear economic value per se. It helps attract institutional investors and has a sustainable effect on token price performance. Our results are immune to recall and confirmation biases, reverse causality, and unobserved heterogeneity.