Venrock Expands Team as It Continues the Hunt for Health, Cloud Plays
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One of Silicon Valley’s earliest venture capital firms is expanding.
The Venrock venture capital firm, established in 1969 by the Rockefeller family (ven+rock, get it?), told Re/code it has added Camille Samuels and Doug Dooley to the Palo Alto, Calif., firm’s roster.
Samuels joins as a partner focused on biotech and consumer health investing. She was previously managing director at Versant Ventures, where she sealed funding deals with Achaogen, Kythera, NovaCardia and others.
Dooley, named as an investor, will focus on big data, infrastructure, security and cloud companies. He arrives with 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur and executive, including roles at Cisco and Intel.
The additions represent a doubling down on Venrock’s diversified investment strategy, which incorporated tech and health bets even before the latter came into favor.
Venrock has built one of Silicon Valley’s bigger portfolios of digital health and life sciences companies, including Abbott Laboratories, Doctor on Demand, Gilead Sciences, Grand Rounds, Hyperion, Illumina and many more.
In its most recent exit, Castlight Health went public in March, raising nearly $178 million and briefly valuing the health-care software company above $3 billion. Shares have settled back amid the broader tech stock slump. Venrock partner Bryan Roberts co-founded the company, and the firm held a stake of more than 20 percent before the offering.
Six members of the firm’s investment team are focused on the space, including Roberts, Bong Koh and Anders Hove. But half of them are focused on small-cap public investing, so the firm has been looking to beef up on the venture side for some time, particularly as more investors get excited about the space.
It certainly didn’t go unnoticed that biotech represented half of venture-backed IPOs in 2013.
“You now see a bunch of tech firms coming back into the health space,” Roberts said. “For all the talk of diversified funds going the way of the buffalo, an amazing number of people are now saying they are looking for interesting things to do in both [health and tech].”
Andreessen Horowitz made its first significant health-care investment in April, leading a $23 million round in Omada Health. Founders Fund, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins and Rock Health have been betting on health startups for years, but generally seem to be making more or bigger investments in recent months.
Notably, last week, Google Ventures led a $130 million round in Flatiron Health, which compiles and analyzes clinical and genomic data to help determine effective treatments for cancer patients, a deal initially sniffed out by Fortune.
Ultimately, Venrock’s hires were as much for the specific people as the particular opportunities, according to Roberts.
“There is no space so interesting that we would hire someone we weren’t in love with,” he said.