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 1930s. It has offices in Palo Alto, California; New York City; and Boston, Massachusetts.
The pioneering venture capitalist Laurance S. Rockefeller (1910–2004), 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 eight partners in all, the five famed brothers and their sister, Abby, and two non family members Harper Woodward, Laurance's roommate from Princeton, and MIT scientist, Ted Walkowicz. In August 1969, the firm became known as Venrock.
Over the years Laurance became well known as an investor in enterprises based on science and technology. His investment interests included the fields of aviation, aerospace, electronics, high temperature physics, composite materials, optics, lasers, data processing, thermionics, and nuclear power. It has invested more than $2.5 billion in more than 440 companies, resulting in 125 initial public offerings over the past 40 years.
Venrock focuses its investments on early-stage and start-up companies in information technology and emerging technologies. These include: Intel, Apple, AppNexus, StrataCom, Check Point Software, DoubleClick, 3Com Corporation, Mosaic, PGP, Itek, Digex, Media6Degrees, RefleXion Medical, Shape Security, Smartling, Phoenix, Second Rotation (gazelle), RedSeal and CTERA Networks. It also has a significant venture in the nascent nanotechnology field, with early funding of Nanosys and the nanotech division of Du Pont.
In the healthcare sector, with well-known and respected partners such as Bryan Roberts, Venrock has invested in athenahealth, HealthSouth Corporation, MedPartners, Inc., Castlight Health, Caliper Technologies Corporation, Centocor, Geron, Genetics Institute, Idec Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Illumina, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Sirna Therapeutics, and Sugen.