In the 1930’s, Laurance Rockefeller (1910-2004) pioneered early-stage venture capital in the United States by investing in Eddie Rickenbacker and James “Mac” McDonnell, the entrepreneurs behind Eastern Airlines and McDonnell Aircraft. Laurance was the fourth of six children of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Over the next 20 years, he became well known as an investor of risk capital in young enterprises whose future was based on scientific and technological developments, including the fields of electronics, high temperature physics, composite materials, optics, lasers, data processing, thermionics and nuclear power.
In 1969, Laurance and his siblings formed Venrock in order to expand and “professionalize” this venture capital investment program. Since then, Venrock has developed into one of the country’s leading venture capital firms with offices in Palo Alto, New York and Cambridge. Venrock entrepreneurs have charted new advancements in cancer, anti-infective and auto-immune therapies, powered semiconductors and the digital era, secured our information technology infrastructure, pioneered on-line advertising, generated power through alternative means, and most recently, are fostering innovation in healthcare IT and harnessing the social web. Portfolio companies have included Apple Computer, Athenahealth, Centocor, Check Point Software, DoubleClick, Gilead Sciences, Idec Pharmaceuticals, Illumina, Intel, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Sirna Therapeutics, StrataCom and Vontu.
With a current focus on technology and healthcare, Venrock continues the eight-decade Rockefeller tradition of funding entrepreneurs and establishing successful, enduring companies, and the firm’s investment returns place it among the top tier venture capital firms that have achieved consistently superior performance.
“If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.”
– John D. Rockefeller