Ray A. Rothrock '77
General Managing Partner, Venrock Associates
April 28, 2011
Hilton Conference Center • Oakwood Room
All nuclear engineering students, faculty, staff and their guests are invited to attend.
The deadline to RSVP has passed. You may attend the lecture without participating in the dinner, please confirm your attendance with Dedra Nevill. Should you need to adjust your dinner reservation, please contact Amy Caldwell.
"Sustainable Energy: What We Can Learn from 'How Big Things' Happen in America"
The United States is an amazing country, with a long history of innovation when it comes to solving big problems. With the freedom to publish, think, and debate, many good things have come to pass for our citizens and the world – and probably some good things were missed, too.
At Venrock, we set out on a systematic journey through five decades of American business technology history to answer the question: when it comes to innovation and problem solving, how do big things happen in America? Our goal was apply what we learned to the most important challenge of our time: how to transition America from carbon-based to sustainable sources of energy.
Using simple pattern recognition of the many variables in business, academia, and innovation, we observed when and how America has achieved great things, and identified the key success factors that drove these achievements. Of course, there were failures, too, and understanding where and why these failings occurred was equally important to our task.
In this talk, Ray Rothrock, a Venrock venture partner and energy investor, takes listeners through a brief history of the research and patterns that helped us determine how big things happen in America, with case studies. With history as a backdrop, Ray applies lessons learned to the current energy situation in the United States and in world hot spots such as China – which has emerged as the world’s largest consumer of energy and its largest emitter of carbon emissions – and Japan, where the ongoing Fukashima Daiichi nuclear power plant crisis has thrown the future of nuclear power into question.
Regarding America’s energy future, what is at stake, and what needs to be done, Ray then presents an “If I Were President” action plan with some controversial elements that will no doubt spark debate.
- Ray Rothrock '77 joined Venrock, a diversified $2 billion venture capital firm, in 1988, and after 22 years and 47 investments, his passion for building companies is as strong as ever.
Ray began his career as a licensed nuclear safety analysis 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, and during his tenure at Venrock, he established the firm’s energy practice in 2004, and previously launched its Internet practice in 1992. His investments have resulted in a lifetime investment internal rate of return (IRR) of 94%.
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 with six IPOs include Spyglass, DoubleClick, Digex, USInternetworking, FogDog Sports, and
Check Point Software, in addition to the many successful exits such as Pedestal, Haystack Labs, P-Cube,Whole Security, Vontu, PGP, Qpass and others. His current investments are mostly in the field of energy the energy practice at Venrock now has a team of six professionals and a portfolio of twelve promising
Ray serves on the boards of seven privately held companies in Venock’s portfolio and one Venrock alumni investment and public company: Check Point Software Technologies (NASDAQ: CHKP; $10B market cap). The private companies are CloudFlare, GenBand, CoreTrace, Red Seal Systems, Aria Systems Transonic Combustion, and Tri Alpha Energy where he is chairman of the board.
In addition to his venture capital activities, Ray is a director of the National Venture Capital Association and its chairman elect for 2012. In 2010 he 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, is currently an Executive in Residence at Middlebury College and has served on the Visiting Committee of the MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering Department since 2001. He is on the board of and is a past chair of Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, California. Ray targets his philanthropic interests primarily at education and the performing arts.
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
Ray holds a Professional Engineering License, Texas. An Eagle Scout, he was born and raised in Fort Worth, TX.