Venture Capital’s Role in Nuclear Science | Ray Rothrock


About Ray Rothrock

As a venture capitalist for more than two decades, Ray has assisted entrepreneurs in achieving their dreams and produced outstanding financial returns for his limited partners. He has personally discovered, created and guided more than 50 companies in the Venrock portfolio through their early stages of formation and emerging growth. Beginning his professional career as a nuclear engineer he continues his love for “building,” especially companies.

Presently Ray is chair of the National Venture Capital Association for the 2012-2013 term and he was ranked #49 on the 2012 Forbes’ Midas List .

Ray’s areas of investment expertise and interests span the globe, and include energy, information technology infrastructure and cyber security. He led Venrock’s Internet investment strategy beginning in 1992 and in 2004, initiated the firm’s energy investment strategy. Ray’s successful investments include Check Point Software Technology (NASDAQ: CHKP), the world leader in Internet security where he continues on its Board of Directors; DoubleClick (NASDAQ: DCLK) subsequently acquired; Spyglass (NASDAQ: SPYG), subsequently acquired; Digex, Inc. (NASDAQ: DIGX) subsequently acquired; USInternetwork (NASDAQ: USIN), subsequently acquired; FogDog Sport (NASDAQ: FOGD), subsequently acquired; and scores of others, including Vontu, PGP, Pedestal, and Whole Security, which were all acquired by Symantec, and P-Cube, Qpass, Upgrade Corp., and Nanogram Devices. His most recent success is Imperva (NYSE: IMPV), the most successful tech IPO of 2011. His track record in cybersecurity is second to none.

An avid spokesman for the venture industry, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Ray also is active in educational and community causes. He currently serves on the Visiting Committee of the MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering Department and the Board of Woodside Priory School. He previously served as Trustee of the Texas A&M Foundation and chaired the investment committee of its $1 billion endowment. In 2010-2011, Ray was an Executive in Residence at Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, where he taught several economics classes and lectured on energy. He also is a trustee of TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, CA, the leading theatre company in the Silicon Valley, and is a patron of the arts in general.

Ray earned his B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Texas A&M University, an S.M. in Nuclear Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School.


Interview Transcript:

So I understand you just recently put out a paper in a publication called issues on fear.

Yes, it’s a, it’s a publication called It’s online. It’s called What’s the big deal is the name of the paper, I was asked to describe the venture capital role in developing a company like try alpha, which is a big science project at this stage. And why anybody would do it. Why would my limited partners allow me to do it? And I explained not only the process, but a little bit about fusion, but if it works, what is it? That’s a pretty good article. It’s gotten a lot of picked up by a lot of people actually got an email from the White House, thanking me for getting it published. I thought it was pretty interesting. All sorts of things made me think about what’s my next article.

For the listeners

org as part of the National Academy. They have several publications. This is also a hardcopy, but it’s on the web right now. January it was published in June.

Right, well, I’ll add the link to the great this little article, they can click up super


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Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of  GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.

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Ray Rothrock on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Ray Rothrock

Ray joined Venrock, a diversified $2 billion venture capital firm, in 1988 in New York City, and after 25years and 53 direct investments, his passion for building companies is as strong as ever. He retired from Venrock, June 2013 and continues as a venture capitalist on his own account.

Ray began his career as a nuclear engineer with Yankee Atomic Electric, and later spent a year at Exxon Minerals in its nuclear operations. Before joining Venrock, he also participated in three venture capital backed companies – two that failed and one that was very successful, Sun Microsystems. These experiences introduced him to venture capital and the risk involved in startup enterprises. During his tenure at Venrock in 1992 he the launched Venrock’s Internet practice, and later he established the firm’s energy practice in 2004. His investments have resulted in a lifetime investment internal rate of return (IRR) of 94%. Ray was selected #49 on the Forbes Midas List for 2012 for his venture track record and #63 in 2013.

An engineer at heart with a keen insight into product markets and how people are impacted by technology, Ray loves to figure out what matters in a company and mentor young entrepreneurs. Past successful investments include seven the IPOs of Spyglass, DoubleClick, Digex, USInternetworking, FogDog Sports,Check Point Software and Imperva. Also he has many successful exits such as Pedestal, Haystack Labs, PCube, Whole Security, Vontu, PGP, Qpass and others. Focusing early in the Internet years on infrastructure and security, he has an extraordinary track record in cyber security investments.

Ray serves on the boards of five privately held companies in Venock’s portfolio and one Venrock alumni investment and public company: Check Point Software Technologies (NASDAQ: CHKP; $13B market cap). The private companies are Appthority, CTERA Networks, CloudFlare, Red Seal Systems, and Tri Alpha Energy.

Subsequent to his retirement from Venrock, Ray was approached and pursued a number of private investments in numerous companies ranging from energy to cyber to healthcare. He has made a number of investments on his own account, and is a limited partner is a number of venture capital partnerships extending his network both east and west. His board seats in his portfolio include Premier Coiled Tubing Solutions, Colabo, Patients with Power, and Transatomic Power.

In addition to his venture capital activities, Ray was Chairman of the National Venture Capital Association a position elected by his industry peers. During his chairmanship, the NVCA successfully recruited and employed Bobby Franklin to be the new CEO of the NVCA. In 2010 he was requested and testified to the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. He also has served on the Board of Trustees of the Texas A&M Foundation (2003-2010) where he chaired the Investment Committee (2007-2010), is currently an Executive in Residence at the Harvard Business School (2011-present), was an Executive in Residence at Middlebury College (2011-2012) and served a decade on the Visiting Committee of the MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering Department ending in 2011. Presently he is on the Music and Theatre Arts Visiting Committee at MIT. He is on the board of and is a past chair of Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, California. He also is a trustee of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, a regional theatrical company in Palo Alto, California. Ray targets his philanthropic interests primarily at climate change, education and the performing arts. He and his son have a 1960s cover rock band, “Up and to the Right” that performs around the peninsula.

Ray also is a frequent speaker on venture, energy and technology. He often presents independent research showing how government, industry, technology and public opinion must converge for America to solve big problems such as developing and implementing an energy policy that protects national, economic and environmental security. His research of late includes cleantech strategies and prospective cybersecurity threats. His blog is at And he is @rayrothrock on Twitter.

Ray is passionate about climate change and need to reduce the use of fossil fuels for energy production. He Ray A. Rothrock February 2014 was a co-executive producer of Robert Stone’s documentary titled, Pandora’s Promise, which debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Ray holds a Professional Engineering License, Texas. He is an Eagle Scout, and was born and raised in Fort Worth, TX.

Alan Olsen on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Alan Olsen

Alan is managing partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, (GROCO) and is a respected leader in his field. He is also the radio show host to American Dreams. Alan’s CPA firm resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and serves some of the most influential Venture Capitalist in the world. GROCO’s affluent CPA core competency is advising High Net Worth individual clients in tax and financial strategies. Alan is a current member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (S.I.E.P.R.) SIEPR’s goal is to improve long-term economic policy. Alan has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and develops innovative financial strategies for business enterprises. Alan also serves on President Kim Clark’s BYU-Idaho Advancement council. (President Clark lead the Harvard Business School programs for 30 years prior to joining BYU-idaho. As a specialist in income tax, Alan frequently lectures and writes articles about tax issues for professional organizations and community groups. He also teaches accounting as a member of the adjunct faculty at Ohlone College.

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