Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2012

Kleiner-Perkins and Genentech: When Venture Capital Met Science

by Felda Hardymon and Tom Nicholas


Genentech is a rare success story in the biotechnology industry. Hundreds of billions of dollars of venture capital have been invested without the expected transformational effects. Established in 1976, Genentech was to develop the new science of recombinant DNA into viable therapeutic products with mass market appeal, something that most scientists agreed was at least a decade away. The founders, Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson had limited financial resources, so they turned to Tom Perkins, the co-founder of Kleiner-Perkins, for venture funding. Genentech developed through an effective union between scientific and venture investment mindsets. In 1980 an IPO valued Genentech at $300 million. In 2009 it was fully acquired by the Swiss-based healthcare company, Roche, for $47 billion. Roche had held a majority stake in the company since 1990.

Keywords: venture capital; innovation & entrepreneurship; Venture Capital; Biotechnology Industry; United States;


Hardymon, Felda, and Tom Nicholas. "Kleiner-Perkins and Genentech: When Venture Capital Met Science." Harvard Business School Case 813-102, October 2012.