A news and commentary blog for those interested in venture capital in clean technologies.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Sterling Planet announced a $1M bridge financing from GreenShift. Sterling Planet is a reseller of RECs (renewable energy credits, see a blurb on them here), with utilities and large corporations as their largest customers.
Keeping his ear to the ground, Matt Marshall at SiliconBeat reported today that Pashu Gopalan, the SVP of Sales & Marketing at Kleiner-backed SOFC startup Ion America, has resigned. With the headline "What's going on at Ion America," Marshall seems to imply that this may have significant implications for the company. But it may very well be simply that Gopalan has decided to move on for personal reasons (as a couple of people I've spoken with have mentioned), with nothing more to be read about IA's prospects.
This Wired story about a very early solar-hydrogen technology makes for an interesting and entertaining read. Note the mention about how early-stage VCs have already started knocking on Nocera's door...
This Washington Post story has an interesting take on cleantech and similar investing, talking up the "doing well by doing good" angle. Which brings up an important point. Certainly such motivations are often felt by cleantech entrepreneurs, VCs, and those who invest in their funds. And that leads to the kinds of questions that I and others often get, such as those asking if we are more patient investors than VCs in other sectors, or if we have lower goals in terms of returns to investors. Definitely not. First and foremost, most cleantech VCs I speak with (and including the firm I work for, Expansion Capital Partners) are focused on delivering competitive returns. Since the effort to provide strong returns through cleantech investing most often dovetails with the motivation to add value to society, it does provide "more meaning" (as the quote from John Doerr mentions). But for the most part, as the article describes, for many of the VCs involved or thinking about getting involved in the space, "the shift is as much about helping themselves as it is about helping others." And that's to be expected. The cleantech investing thesis is about identifying critical resource and infrastructure trends that will have negative impacts on the economy and peoples' lives, and investing in technologies that address those trends in some way. It is a lens by which investors can identify smart investments, and in the process promote social and environmental benefits. It is about identifying where market forces and societal needs are both driving toward the same ends. So bear that in mind as you read this interesting article (good mentions of Pionetics and Ion America as well).
- Use energy, water and other raw materials more efficiently and productively,
- Deliver equal or superior performance,
- Improve customer profitability, through cost reduction and/or increased revenues, and
- Create less waste or toxicity
...compared to incumbent technologies
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