Wednesday, May 02, 2007

How a Rock started theVC biz in the Valley | The Register

"Arthur Rock once savored a monopoly over the minds and money flowing through Silicon Valley.
One struggles these days to imagine anything less than a steel cage, death match as myriad venture capital firms rush to fund the latest and greatest start-ups. Investors fall all over each other, hoping to strike it rich in a flash. This is the Tipping Point mentality promoted by author Malcolm Gladwell and worshipped by lottery aficionados.
Rock and his partner Tommy Davis worked in simpler but murkier times. They started to define the Silicon Valley venture capital culture back in 1961, using Rock's past investment in Fairchild Semiconductor and $5m as proof of their credentials. Back then, $5m bought you plenty of attention.
'We were the only game in town, so they all came to us,' Rock said last night, during an event here at the Computer History Museum. 'We didn't have to go looking.'
On one level, Rock is best known for that Fairchild deal.
While working for an investment bank in New York, he learned of seven unhappy researchers at the Shockley Semiconductor Lab in Mountain View. The workers wanted to leave en masse and find a company willing to employ the entire group. (Fairchild and Intel co-founder Robert Noyce later joined the seven, forming the so-called 'Traitorous Eight'.)"

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