Our study investigates the outbound open innovation of firms engaged in technological venturing. Leveraging insights from the sociology theory and innovation literatures, we clarify whether social status helps entrepreneurial ventures overcome market imperfection and information asymmetry in out-licensing and illustrate the importance of specific aspects of social status building in this context. We also examine the effect of failure experiences on out-licensing. We take a dynamic view of desorptive capacity by studying an entrepreneurial venture's learning process, both internally, in terms of its own technology trajectory, and externally, through inter-organizational alliances. We apply a negative binomial model to our novel panel of 180 firms studied over an 18-year period with controls for stocks of clinical development activities, patenting and prior licensing activities. Empirical analysis enables us to observe the impact which the firms' technological and development status, reputation and desorptive capacity exert upon out-licensing volume. Prior outbound open innovation studies do not account for the heterogeneity of technology and R&D success and failure experiences observed in our study. We also demonstrate the contingency effect of external learning from alliances during the building-up of a firm's desorptive capacity, or the way in which the number of co-authoring partners in scientific publications negatively moderates the positive effect of the number of commercial alliances on the volume of its out-licensing deals. Our findings contribute to the understanding of external knowledge exploitation and complement important aspects of the literatures on outbound open innovation and desorptive capacity, offering empirically rich insights for bin-pharmaceutical firms into the drivers behind volumes of out-licensing deals. Crown Copyright (C) 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.