We closed Venrock 8 today. It is a(nother) $450 million fund which feels, for us, a bit like the littlest bear’s bowl of porridge—not too big and not too small, but just about right. We expect to follow a similar strategy as we have for the last several funds—finding great people addressing substantial needs in ways that most of the world thinks will not work. These investments will end up being made in a likely surprising variety of companies across technology and healthcare. We have nearly always invested in first time CEOs – people like John Stuelpnagel of Illumina, Jonathan Bush of Athenahealth and Matthew Prince of Cloudflare; and backed them pre product-market fit, when the likelihood, timing and scale of success is hard to pin down. We expect these traits will continue in Venrock 8.
We continue to believe that there are some really interesting problems to tackle, and therefore some very large businesses to build, but that is all in the future. Thus far, we have only taken on the responsibility of a large sum of money from people who are counting on us to return multiples of it, so that they can continue their work supporting a wide array of wonderful programs and causes.
As a result, I have to confess to being a somewhat reluctant blogger on this topic, as we are really at the beginning of an arduous journey towards a tenuous goal, more so than at an end, worthy of celebration. Given the current low return environment across most asset classes globally, recent venture performance has attracted a substantial oversupply of capital. For us and many others, this makes fund raising a reasonably efficient process, but does nothing to decrease the weight of responsibility placed on the firm. And, it means that we have to be even more insightful or early or proprietary with investment opportunities. Appropriately, our close-knit team feels more of the anticipation and nervousness of embarking on an all-consuming effort— to improve ourselves, focus on long term company success, and do our best for entrepreneurs 24×7— than the joy of successful completion.
As a team, we know how fortunate we are to sit in these seats, bearing witness to the formation of so many companies, led by extraordinary people with noble ambitions. We take the responsibility seriously, both as stewards of others’ hard-earned capital and as hopeful catalysts of a better world.