The first publicly owned venture capital firm (American Research and Development Corporation) was launched in 1946. Many believe its best investment was the $70,000 it spent in 1957 to help fund Digital Equipment Corporation. Eleven years later, that investment was valued at more than $355 million after the company’s initial public offering.
In 1969, the first official nonprofit venture capital (VC) organization in the world—the Western Association of Venture Capitalists—was founded. Today, it is comprised of more than 100 venture firms and more than 1,000 venture capitalists. In 1973, the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) was founded in the offices of the Heizer Corporation, a leading VC firm. According to a 1973 news story in SBIC/Venture Capital, the NVCA was founded “as a means for venture capital organizations throughout the country to work together on mutual interests and problems. Membership is by invitation and open only to venture capital groups, corporate managers, and individual venture capitalists that are responsible for investing private capital in young companies on a professional basis.”
Today, there are more than 800 venture capital firms in the United States alone. Corporations are once again focusing on venture capital—either expanding their existing units or launching new ones. In 2014, 1,100 corporations had VC units—double the number in 2009, according to Global Corporate Venturing.