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Mss:784 1946-2008 C932

Crisp, Peter O. Peter O. Crisp Papers, 1946-2008 (inclusive): A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:784 1946-2008 C932
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: Peter O. Crisp papers
Date(s): 1946-2008
Quantity: 1.5 linear feet (3 boxes, 6 folders)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Papers of Peter O. Crisp, a founding partner of Venrock Associates, a venture capital company founded by members of the Rockefeller family, circa 1946-2008.


Gift of Peter O. Crisp, 2011.

Processing Information:

Processed: October 2012
By: Alexis Dinniman

Conditions Governing Access:

This collection is stored onsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information regarding this collection.
Digital use copies have been created for some of the items in the collection and are available to the Harvard community via a link in the finding aid, which requires a HarvardKey login.
For researchers outside of the Harvard community, digital use copies can be accessed only onsite in the de Gaspé Beaubien Reading Room on a designated Special Collections computer. To request access please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu prior to visiting the library.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Peter O. Crisp Papers. Baker Library. Harvard Business School.

Biographical Note:

Peter O. Crisp was a founding partner of Venrock Associates and a pioneer of the venture capital industry. Crisp received a B.A. from Yale University in 1955. After three years as an intelligence officer in the U. S. Air Force, he attended Harvard Business School, earning an M.B.A. in 1960. While at Harvard, Crisp read an article in Time magazine about the investor Laurance S. Rockefeller and his interest in the aviation industry and in seeking to find small, growing companies with potential. Crisp wrote to Rockefeller, and the introduction ultimately resulted in a job offer. Peter Crisp joined Laurance Rockefeller's staff, and began a fifty year association with the Rockefeller family.
Laurance Spelman Rockefeller (1910-2004) was an early proponent of investing equity capital in newly-formed companies. Rockefeller was particularly interested in aviation, and in the 1930s, he provided funding to Eddie Rickenbacker (Eastern Air Lines) and James McDonnell (McDonnell Aircraft), which resulted in early and successful investments in commercial air travel and aircraft manufacturing. In 1946 Laurance Rockefeller, his brothers, and sister created the joint partnership Rockefeller Brothers, Inc., an entity formed to manage the family's investing activities.
Following World War II, under Laurance Rockefeller's leadership, his brothers and sister invested in a number of early-stage technology companies. In 1969, Laurance and his colleagues decided to formalize their activities and formed Venrock Associates. The partnership was founded with $7.5 million from the Rockefeller family and from several non-profit institutions with which they had a long relationship. Venrock took its name from a combination of "venture" and "Rockefeller." Peter O. Crisp was a founding partner of the company, along with Laurance S. Rockefeller, Charles Smith, Harper Woodward, Cornelius Borman, and J. Richardson Dilworth, Venrock focused on seeking early-stage companies with growth potential. The company was an early investor in many technology companies, including Apple Computer, Inc., Thermo Electron Corporation, and Intel Corporation, and biotechnology firms such as Centocor and the Genetics Institute.
Peter O. Crisp served as a founding and managing partner at Venrock from 1969 to 1997, as president of the company from 1980 to 1997, and as chairman from 1995 to 1997. Crisp served as a director for numerous public and private companies that Venrock helped to fund, including American Superconductor Corp., Thermedics Inc., ThermoTrex Corp, Thermo Power Corp., Acadia Risk Management, Inc., Thermo Electron Corporation, Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp., and United States Trust Company. Crisp also served on the board of Apple Computer, Inc. in its early years. From 1997 to 2004 he served as vice chairman of Rockefeller Financial Services, Inc., the family's private holding company
In 2004, Peter Crisp received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Venture Capital Association. As a philanthropist, he has served as a board member for numerous healthcare, cultural, and educational institutions, including, among others, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, North Shore-LIJ Health System, Jupiter Medical Center, the Hotchkiss School, and the Yale Development Board.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Scope and Content Note:

This collection consists of materials related to the venture capital company Venrock Associates and its founding family, the Rockefellers, compiled by founding partner Peter O. Crisp. It includes information on investments made by Venrock and the companies in which the investments were made; investment performance and analysis prepared for partners; and notes by Crisp on the company's investments and venture capital in general. The collection also includes many documents related to Laurance Spelman Rockefeller and his investment history and interests, particularly aviation, as well as his role in both Rockefeller Brothers, Inc. and Venrock Associates. There are also numerous collected press clippings and speeches related to Venrock Associates, Laurance S. Rockefeller, the Rockefeller family and their financial and philanthropic interests, and the history and future of venture capital and venture capital companies.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Aircraft industry.
Capital investments.
Private equity.
Research and development partnership.
Venture capital -- History.
Crisp, Peter O.
Rockefeller, Laurance Spelman
Venrock Associates
National Venture Capital Association (U.S.)