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Type Limited liability company
Founded 1969
Headquarters Flag of the United States.svg Menlo Park, CA
Industry Venture Capital
Products Investments

Venrock, a compound of "Venture" and "Rockefeller", is a pioneering venture capital firm formed in 1969 to build upon the successful investing activities of the Rockefeller family that began in the late 1930’s. It has offices in Menlo Park, California, New York City, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Israel.

History and performance

The venture capitalist Laurance S. Rockefeller (1910-2004), one of the first in this field, was the fourth of the six children of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.. In January, 1946 he formed Rockefeller Brothers, Inc., one of the first postwar venture-capital operations, starting with a capitalization of $1.5 million. There were six partners in all, the five famed brothers and their sister, Abby. In August, 1969, the firm became known as Venrock. It is among a small number of top tier organizations that have achieved consistently superior performance.

Over the years Laurance became well known as an investor of risk capital in young enterprises whose future was based on scientific and technological developments. His investment interests included the fields of aviation, aerospace, electronics, high temperature physics, composite materials, optics, lasers, data processing, thermionics and nuclear power. Venrock continues the seven-decade Rockefeller tradition of funding entrepreneurs and establishing successful, enduring companies. It has invested more than $1.8 billion in more than 400 companies, resulting in 100 IPO’s over the past 37 years.

Venrock focuses its investments on early-stage and start-up companies in information technology and emerging technologies. These include: Intel, Apple, StrataCom, Check Point Software, DoubleClick, 3Com Corporation, Mosaic, PGP, Itek, Digex, Phoenix, and Second Rotation (gazelle). It also has a significant venture in the nascent nanotechnology field, with early funding of the primary company in this area, Nanosys, along with corporate heavyweights such as Du Pont.[1]

In addition, in the healthcare sector, Venrock has invested in HealthSouth Corporation, MedPartners, Inc. Caliper Technologies Corporation, Centocor, Genetics Institute, Idec Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Illumina, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Sirna Therapeutics, and Sugen.

Further reading

  • Harr, John Ensor, and Peter J. Johnson. The Rockefeller Century: Three Generations of America's Greatest Family. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988.
  • Winks, Robin W. Laurance S. Rockefeller: Catalyst for Conservation, New York: Island Press, 1997.

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