Ray Rothrock

About Ray

Ray is a partner emeritus of Venrock.  He was at Venrock for 25 years.  Some of his thoughts about venture capital, innovation, and entrepreneurship are in this recent interview, American Dreams.

He  initiated 53 investments mostly in technology and recently in energy and provided support for scores of others.  The firm made initial investments in about  350 companies in that same 25 year period.  Evolving with the market for venture investments from the late 1980s until today, he led Venrock’s entrance into the Internet with the investment in Spyglass in 1991, the exclusive licensee of MOSAIC browser technology from the University of Illinois.  As the Internet lay open new opportunities for entrepreneurs and thus new investment frontiers, he led the firm into computer and network security leading an investment Check Point Software Technology (NASDAQ: CHKP), advertising technology with an investment in DoubleClick, ecommerce with FogDog, web-hosting and ISP with DIGEX and an original SaaS company, USinternetworking.  With a wide variety of investment experiences including materials and energy, in 2004 he began to assemble a team to consider investments in energy.  He continues to invest in Internet security technology companies, the latest being Shape Security.

His resulting track record put him on the Forbes Midas List in 2012 and 2013.

Prior to Venrock he was at Sun Microsystems where he led the marketing programs for the design automation markets and was a founder of its Catalyst program in 1984.  He was in two other startups in northern California which didn’t turn out as well as Sun.  Prior to moving to California in 1981, Ray was a nuclear engineer and earned his professional engineering license.  He spent several years in the nuclear power business particularly as the nuclear transient safety engineer for Yankee Atomic Electric for the Yankee Rowe Plant in Rowe, Massachusetts.  There was a short stint at Exxon Nuclear in their fuel business but as everyone knows, the nuclear industry began to decline in the early 80s.  Inspired by an article in a 1981 issue of National Geographic talking about the Silicon Valley, he moved to California in search of start-up experience.

His formal education is in nuclear engineering with a BSNE (summa cum laude) from Texas A&M Univeristy and SM from the M.I.T. and ultimately an MBA (with distinction) from the Harvard Business School.

He recently was recognized by his alma mater, Texas A&M, as a Distinguished Engineer.  And also at MIT for his contributions to the Nuclear Science and Engineering department where he served on its Visiting Committee for a decade.

Ray’s interest beyond building companies through capital investment and direct involvement is largely focused on education and the performing arts.  He has served on numerous boards including a recent trustee of the Texas A&M Foundation, Association of Former Students of Texas A&M, Portola Valley Schools Foundation, and the Woodside Priory School Board.  He was the Chair of the National Venture Capital Association from 2012-2013.  He remains a trustee of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.

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