Venrock stocks up on $450M Fund 8 as it prepares a new string of biotech deals

The venture partners at Venrock have an appetite for high-risk biotechs looking to break new ground. Now they have a new $450 million fund to satisfy themselves with a steady diet of new deals ahead.

Bryan Roberts, a partner specializing in healthcare who was in on Receptos early on — well before Celgene acquired it for $7.2 billion — used a blog post on the VC’s site to announce the new fund, Venrock’s 8th. He wrote:

We expect to follow a similar strategy as we have for the last several funds—finding great people addressing substantial needs in ways that most of the world thinks will not work. These investments will end up being made in a likely surprising variety of companies across technology and healthcare. We have nearly always invested in first time CEOs – people like John Stuelpnagel of Illumina, Jonathan Bush of Athenahealth and Matthew Prince of Cloudflare; and backed them pre product-market fit, when the likelihood, timing and scale of success is hard to pin down. We expect these traits will continue in Venrock 8.

There are some unusual aspects to this round. Unlike just about every other VC out there, Venrock is sticking with the same size fund as its last, put together in 2014. That size seems to fit the team just fine. It is, writes Roberts, “a bit like the littlest bear’s bowl of porridge—not too big and not too small, but just about right.”

It has been plenty enough to get Venrock into some high profile biotech deals. The venture group has backed companies like Juno and Unity, a CAR-T and aging R&D biotech that also drew in Arch. And its portfolio includes Tesaro and Fate Therapeutics.

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