Garage Technology Ventures Announces New Cleantech Investment Program

Garage Technology Ventures

Garage Technology Ventures, a seed and early stage venture capital fund, announced earlier this week that it is is partnering with global corporate investors to launch a new investment program in the U.S.  

The initial investment focus of this new program are technologies of strategic interest to Garage’s corporate partners in the areas of materials science, energy technologies, advanced chemistry, and clean technologies. Investments will range from $500,000 to $5 million.

“Corporate investors see the need to participate more aggressively in the new venture ecosystem,” said Bill Reichert, managing director of Garage Technology Ventures. “At the same time, global strategic investors can bring a lot more than just money to an emerging technology company, if the relationship is managed correctly. The result is a win-win for entrepreneurs and for corporations.”

Additional information on this new program is available here. Interested companies can submit their executive summaries to Garage at summary [at]

SolarCity Raises $81 Million

SolarCitySolarCity announced earlier this week that it has raised $81 million in equity financing. The round was co-led by Silver Lake Kraftwerk and Valor Equity Partners, and included investments from Nicholas J. Pritzker, partner at Tao Ventures and senior development advisor for Hyatt Hotels Corp., and Shea Ventures, an affiliate of SolarCity partner Shea Homes. SolarCity Chairman Elon Musk and existing SolarCity investor DBL Investors also participated. The company stated that these funds will support SolarCity’s expansion of sales, marketing and operations, technology development and potential acquisitions.

“Individuals and organizations of all shapes and sizes are fed up with the growing cost and consequences of traditional energy,” said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO. “This investment provides SolarCity the resources to explore new products and services and identify new geographies and potential acquisitions as we seek to deliver better energy choices to more customers.”

“SolarCity is the leader in its space,” said Raj Atluru, co-founder of Silver Lake Kraftwerk. “The company’s unique, vertically-integrated model, paired with incentives and falling technology costs, allows it to provide solar electricity to customers at lower rates than they pay for utility power. We’ve thoroughly analyzed SolarCity’s full-service approach to solar and energy efficiency and we believe it has the ability to deliver superior customer experience and service across multiple sectors.”

“SolarCity is making clean energy more accessible and affordable, and we’re excited for the opportunity to invest in its operations,” said Antonio Gracias, CEO of Valor Equity Partners.  Valor is also an investor in Tesla Motors.

According to Dow Jones VentureWire, SolarCity had raised $121 million in equity prior to this round (see prior Green VC coverage for some of these earlier investments).  There have also been numerous reports that SolarCity is considering an IPO.

SG Biofuels Receives $17 Million in Series B Financing

SG Biofuels SG Biofuels, Inc., (SGB) a San Diego, California-based bioenergy crop company, announced in January that it has completed a $17 million Series B financing led by Thomas, McNerney & Partners with participation from Finistere Ventures and current investors Flint Hills Resources, LLC and Life Technologies Corporation.  The company said it will use the proceeds to expand research and development, advance commercialization efforts and scale global operations.

SGB also announced that Pratik Shah, Ph.D., partner at Thomas, McNerney, and Jerry Caulder, Ph.D., managing director for Finistere Ventures, have joined the company’s board of directors.

“We are very pleased to complete this financing and are privileged to add Thomas,  McNerney and Finistere Ventures with their considerable track records and expertise to our team, ” said Kirk Haney, president and chief executive officer at SGB. “The funding comes at a time when we’re experiencing significant commercial adoption of our hybrid Jatropha and will be instrumental as we continue to expand our global footprint.”

In September 2010 the company secured $9.4 million in Series A funding.

Khosla Ventures Raises $1.05 Billion in New Investment Fund

Khosla Ventures

Khosla Ventures, a venture capital firm baed in Silicon Valley, announced earlier this month that it has raised a new $1.05 billion fund – Khosla Ventures IV.  The firm will continue its strategy of investing in early stage companies in the clean tech, IT, mobile, and Internet technology sectors.

"We have identified the 'Clean Dozen' companies in clean tech that can achieve unsubsidized market competitiveness and the 'Cool Dozen' categories in Internet and mobile in the post-PC world such as big data, emotion, interest graphs and consumer health," said Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla.

Khosla Ventures IV follows the Khosla Ventures III fund and Khosla Ventures seed fund. The Khosla Ventures III fund of $1 billion of investor commitments focused on traditional early stage and growth stage companies. Khosla Ventures also previously raised $300 million for the Khosla Ventures seed fund which invests in high-risk, high-return opportunities, particularly groundbreaking science or internet developments, besides traditional venture investments.

"We fundamentally invest in the companies that we expect to have significant impact, and that’s precisely what the Khosla Ventures IV fund will do," said Khosla. "We don't mind failing but do care that the impact be material if we do succeed; and we believe that our willingness to fail gives us an ability to succeed. We will continue to not compute IRR's when investing as we believe in helping entrepreneurs build companies with high impact and high option value that are not subject to traditional financial metrics."

"In clean tech, our IPO's and other exits that have generated almost a billion dollars in profits personify this strategy. We endeavor to be the earliest investors in disruptive Internet and mobile companies which have gone on to complete exciting financings such as Square, Jawbone, ZocDoc and Lookout,” continued Khosla. "Instead of following the herd strategy of investing where others are investing, we continue to try and originate new areas in both sectors. We will also continue to attempt new strategies in venture by providing more venture assistance to companies such as putting together an operational group." As Khosla has often said, "We are not in the venture capital business. We are in the venture assistance business."

You can view Khosla Ventures' cleantech portfolio here and prior coverage on Green VC here.

Greener Capital Announces $33 Million in Commitments for Its Next Cleantech Venture Fund

Greener Capital, a clean technology venture capital firm, announced earlier this month its first closing on commitments totaling $33 million for its second cleantech fund, Greener Capital Partners II, L.P. The partners expect the fund to continue to attract strong interest from investors.

Charles Finnie, founder and managing partner, said, "The success of our first fund has fueled tremendous interest in this second fund, in contrast to a notable pull-back in clean technology investments overall this year. There are reasons our investments have been successful thus far:

  • We back entrepreneurs who offer unconventional, even radical solutions to major problems in the production and management of energy. 
  • invest in capital-efficient businesses that can be cost competitive with traditional energy providers, without government subsidies. 
  • Since most investment capital is chasing later-stage investments, we are able to invest at compelling valuations in earlier stage companies."

Greener Capital was founded in 2009 and is based in Berkeley, California. The firm is led by partners Thomas Cain, Charles Finnie and Michael Katz.

Leyden Energy Receives $20 Million in Series B Financing

Leyden Energy

Leyden Energy, a Fremont, California – based lithium-ion battery maker, announced Wednesday that it raised $20 million in a Series B round of financing. New Enterprise Associates (NEA) led this round of funding and included existing investors Lightspeed Ventures, Sigma Partners and Walden International. Leyden Energy also announced that it added NEA’s Ron Bernal to its Board of Directors.

The company said that the money would be used towards the production of its lithium-ion battery technology for the consumer electronics, energy storage and electric vehicle markets. The following video illustrates how lithium-ion batteries are made by Leyden:

"Leyden Energy combines all of the elements we look for in a portfolio company—tangible intellectual property that can be commercialized in a cost-effective manner to address a large market problem," said Ron Bernal, venture partner at NEA. "What the company has introduced is really an energy storage platform that can be applied to a number of different product markets in order to increase the value that those applications bring to end customers. We are excited to be working with Leyden Energy to usher in its next stage of growth."

"The involvement of a top-tier investor and growth partner like NEA further validates the recent progress Leyden Energy has made in bringing its product suite to market," said Aakar Patel, president and CEO of Leyden Energy. "Market demand for high-performance, long-lasting batteries in consumer electronics is growing, and we are perfectly positioned to answer that demand and improve the customer experience for product manufacturers worldwide."

– This post was written by Rob Stewart, a graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Urban Sustainability at the Antioch University of Los Angeles, and edited by Leonard Adler, Founder and Publisher of Green VC.

True North Venture Partners Announces Launch With $300 Million Greentech Fund

True North Venture Partners

True North Venture Partners announced this week the launch of its new venture capital company along with its $300 million greentech fund. Founded by Michael Ahearn, former CEO of First Solar, the company said the fund would be used to invest primarily in early stage companies in the energy, water, agriculture and waste industries. Investments will range from $100,000 to $25 million.

“We are focused on sectors where the global problems are pressing, the need for disruptive innovation is great and the challenges faced by early stage entrepreneurs and investors are particularly daunting,” said Ahearn. “Our goal is to identify exceptionally talented entrepreneurs with the vision, drive and business potential to significantly improve the world and help them realize their ambitions.”

“We are assembling a team of partners and advisors who combine successful investment experience with proven track records in developing start-up businesses into significant enterprises,” said Ahearn. “We can help entrepreneurs navigate the obstacles that they will inevitably face in fundamentally transforming global industries.”

True North Venture Partners, which has offices in Chicago, IL and Phoenix, AZ, has officially begun operations and expects to be fully staffed by the end of 2011.

For more information:

– This post was written by Rob Stewart, a graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Urban Sustainability at the Antioch University of Los Angeles, and edited by Leonard Adler, Founder and Publisher of Green VC.

Primus Power Raises $11 Million in Financing

Primus Power

Primus Power, a Hayward, California-based energy storage company, announced in May that it received $11 million in its most recent round of financing. DBL Investors and I2BF Global Ventures joined previous investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital in this funding round.

The company stated that it will use these funds to support continued development and commercialization of its flow battery technology.  Flow batteries, which are large tanks of liquids that can store energy, have the ability to rapidly store energy that comes in from solar and wind power devices and release that electricity during peak load periods. In addition, they can provide backup power for large power grids. 

"As utilities increasingly grow the percentage of renewables in their generation mix, cost-effective storage becomes imperative," said Nancy Pfund, Managing Partner of DBL Investors. "Primus Power answers this need for storage on the power grid of the future, while simultaneously tackling today’s demands with flexible storage solutions offering outstanding power density at a low price point. With its advanced technology and seasoned management team, Primus delivers an important, environmentally beneficial component to the national, and eventually the global, energy market."

David Waserstein, Partner and Director of Investments at I2BF Global Ventures, believes that “Primus occupies the sweet spot between cost and power density. Today there are no comparable low cost, high power storage systems on the market, and we see huge potential for Primus’ technology."

Primus Power was founded in 2009 and has also received grants from the United States Department of Energy (DOE), the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), and the California Energy Commission (CEC).

For more information:

– This post was written by Rob Stewart, a graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Urban Sustainability at the Antioch University of Los Angeles.

Solix Biofuels Obtains $16 Million in Series B Financing and Changes Name to Solix BioSystems

Solix Biosystems

Solix Biofuels, a developer of algae production technology, announced earlier this week that it has secured more than $16 million from inside investors as the first part of its Series B financing round. Bohemian Ventures, The Southern Ute Alternative Energy Fund, and I2BF Global Ventures all participated in the financing. In conjunction with the financing, the company stated that it is changing its name to Solix BioSystems to better reflect its role as a provider of algae production systems.

Solix said that it will use the new funding to drive the commercialization of the AGS, its industrial algae growth system.  The company is headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado and has a demonstration facility near Durango in Southern Colorado.