Campus & Community

HBS receives $25 million from venture capitalist Arthur Rock

4 min read

Arthur Rock, a member of the Harvard Business School M.B.A. Class of 1951 and a pioneering venture capitalist who helped form numerous start-ups that went on to become 20th century success stories, including Intel Corp., Teledyne, Scientific Data Systems, and Apple Computer, has donated $25 million to the School to fund the establishment of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship.

The gift, the largest directed toward a particular academic program since the School’s founding in 1908, continues Rock’s extraordinary commitment to the support of research, teaching, and course development at the Business School (HBS) which offered the country’s first graduate course in entrepreneurship more than a half century ago.

In 1981, Rock and his classmate, Fayez Sarofim, funded the first professorship at HBS in the field of entrepreneurship. From 1997 to 2002, Rock served as founding chairman of the Advisory Board of the School’s California Research Center, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. This facility – one of five research centers and offices that Harvard Business School has established around the world – has produced some 100 case studies focusing on the creation and management of new and developing enterprises in California and neighboring states.

“The future of this nation lies with new ventures,” says Rock. “They supply the new projects, the new technologies, and the new jobs. Harvard Business School has long been at the forefront in understanding the many facets of the entrepreneurial process – from the intricacies of finance to the art of leadership – and I am delighted to be able to do something that supports those efforts both now and for the future.”

“Arthur Rock epitomizes the mission of the Harvard Business School,” says HBS Dean Kim B. Clark. “We are dedicated to educating leaders who make a difference in the world. Through his foresight, wisdom, and hard work, Arthur has made possible companies and products such as microprocessors and computers that have provided thousands of jobs, created enormous value, and changed our lives in the workplace and at home.

“This very important gift,” Clark continues, “supports an area of intense interest among our students and alumni and comes at an inflection point in the School’s history as we proceed with a Capital Campaign that aims to raise $500 million by 2005. All of us in the HBS community are forever grateful to Arthur for his generosity and help as we guide the School to meet the demands of the new century. We will rename South Hall, the building that houses our entrepreneurship faculty, The Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship in his honor.”

In addition to supporting a variety of faculty projects, the new fund will also be used to provide fellowships for M.B.A. and doctoral students, underwrite symposia and conferences on entrepreneurship, and develop new publications and Web sites to extend the reach and impact of the School’s work in this field.

Born in Rochester, N.Y., in 1926, Arthur Rock graduated from Syracuse University after serving in the U.S. Army. He entered Harvard Business School in 1949. He began his business career two years later as a security analyst in New York City before joining the corporate finance department of Hayden, Stone & Co., where he focused on raising money for small high-technology companies.

An opportunity to help a start-up near San Francisco led to his first trip to California and the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor, an enterprise that became hugely successful. Eager to be in the center of all this entrepreneurial activity, Rock moved to California in 1961 and formed the partnership of Davis & Rock, which worked with Max Palevsky to build Scientific Data Systems, a pioneering scientific computing company that flourished in the 1960s. He also helped Henry Singleton to create Teledyne, which quickly grew into one of the most successful technology conglomerates in the history of American business.

Setting out on his own in 1968 to form Arthur Rock & Co., he worked with Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore to launch Intel, and with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to start Apple Computer. Described by one publication as “the best of the risk-taking, high-tech rollers,” he was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1984.

Beginning in 1981, under the leadership of Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration Howard H. Stevenson, the Business School’s entrepreneurship experts developed a framework for future teaching and research that saw entrepreneurship as a special kind of approach to management rather than an innate trait. “It is the pursuit of opportunities beyond the resources a person has under his or her control,” Stevenson explains.

“Arthur Rock is part of the history of American business and entrepreneurship,” says Stevenson. “With his most recent gift, he has left a lasting legacy that will help future generations of HBS students follow in his path.”