Venture capitalists are patient, long-term investors who are willing to take entrepreneurial risks alongside company founders. No other asset class has the wherewithal or the appetite for this type of critical high-risk investment in our country’s most promising ideas.
—Mark Heesen, the longtime president of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA)
Sometimes you get lucky, and the returns you get are not just measured in dollars and cents! In 1983, I was one of the general partners at Prutech, the Prudential Securities VC Fund Unit. We made a seed investment in Summit Technology Inc., based in Waltham, Massachusetts. Our $3 million bought roughly 60 percent of the company. Dr. Dave Muller was the founder and CEO. He had patented the excimer laser technology while at Cornell University. Subsequently, Summit was the first enterprise to receive FDA approval to use an excimer laser for photo-refractive keratectomy and the first company to receive FDA approval to mass manufacture and distribute excimer lasers. VISX and other companies followed suit starting in 1986. The technology initially had two applications, one for laser ablation angioplasty, which Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific was to market, and the other for ophthalmic surgery; what has come to be known today as LASIK eye surgery.
In 2000, Summit Technology was sold to Alcon for $948 million. Muller went on to form other companies, including ...