On October 22, Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, will be the featured speaker at Stanford University's Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders (ETL) Seminar Series. ETL is a weekly speaker series that brings innovation leaders from the fields of business, finance, technology, education, and philanthropy, to share their insights with aspiring entrepreneurs. Mr. Khosla's presentation will take place at 4:30 pm in Stanford University's Kresge Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public. A podcast of this event will be available here.
Category: Khosla Ventures
Below is a video featuring an interview of Vinod Khosla (founder of Khosla Ventures) this week at the recent Reuters 2008 Global Environment Summit. In this interview Mr. Khosla shares his views on a number of topics, including how the current market environment is impacting clean technology companies.
Mascoma Corporation, a Boston, Massachusetts-based company involved in the development and deployment of cellulosic ethanol technologies, announced ealier this week that it received a $49.5 million — $26 million from the U.S. Department of Energy and $23.5 million from the State of Michigan. The funds will be used for the development of a cellulosic fuel production facility in Kinross in Chippewa County, Michigan that uses non-food biomass to convert woodchips into fuel. Mascoma investors General Motors Corporation and Marathon Oil Corporation are also providing support for this project.
Mascoma will be working on this project with Marquette, Michigan-based JM Longyear. This partnership will involve the creation of a new company, Frontier Renewable Resources, which will own the project. Mascoma will also be working with Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University to adapt Mascoma’s technology and supply chain options for the Michigan feedstocks used in production. The Kinross facility will use sustainably harvested mixed hardwood chips and other non-food biomass materials as the raw material for the production of cellulosic fuel. The facility is expected to eventually produce 40 million gallons of ethanol and other fuel products annually.
"Michigan is proud to partner with Mascoma as a part of our commitment to lead the nation in alternative energy production," said Governor Granholm. "This company, and their partners, will create jobs in Michigan as they develop the next generation of cellulosic ethanol that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make fuel more affordable for our families."
"We’ve targeted industries like alternative energy to diversify Michigan’s economy and create new jobs," Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James C. Epolito said. "Innovative tools combined with effective partnerships are enabling us to attract high-tech companies like Mascoma and accelerate Michigan’s transformation."
"Mascoma is pleased and honored to receive this important funding from the DOE and the State of Michigan," said Bruce A. Jamerson, Chairman and CEO of Mascoma Corporation. "This funding will allow us to accelerate commercial production of low cost, low carbon fuel that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy independence," Jamerson continued.
"I applaud the decision by the Department of Energy and the state of Michigan to provide the incentives Mascoma needed to scale up the technology and accelerate construction of this facility here in Michigan," said Senator Carl Levin. "This investment in cutting-edge biofuel technology will create jobs in Michigan, and the incredible natural resources of the Upper Peninsula will help Mascoma to efficiently produce the next generation of fuels."
"Mascoma Corporation’s cellulosic fuel facility is a prime example of how Michigan continues to lead the way in solving our nation’s energy crisis while creating new jobs in a green economy," said Senator Debbie Stabenow. "I am pleased to work with the rest of the delegation and the State of Michigan to support Mascoma in their mission to develop low-carbon biofuels and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."
"Mascoma and the Department of Energy recognize the potential northern Michigan and our workforce hold for developing alternative energy sources," Congressman Bart Stupak said. "Mascoma’s proposed cellulosic fuels facility will be the first of its kind in the nation to produce ethanol from timber. This important federal-state-private partnership will put northern Michigan on the forefront of this developing technology, create hundreds of jobs in our community and the potential for many more. I am pleased to have played a role in helping to bring this significant investment to Chippewa County."
Masoma was founded in 2005 and has received approximately $100 million in equity investments thusfar. Investors include Flagship Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Atlas Venture, General Catalyst Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Pinnacle Ventures, VantagePoint Venture Partners, General Motors, and Marathon Oil.
For more information:
- Mascoma – Home page
- Mascoma Corporation Announces $49.5 Million in DOE and State of Michigan Funding for Cellulosic Fuel Facility (October 7, 2008)
- Mascoma Corporation Raises $61 Million In Third Round of Funding (May 6, 2008)
- Mascoma Corporation Raises $30 Million in Series B Funding Led By General Catalyst Partners (November 13, 2006)
- Mascoma Corporation Secures Series A Funding from Flagship Ventures and Khosla Ventures for Ethanol Production Effort (July, 19, 2006)
Ausra, a Palo Alto, California-based company that develops and deploys utility-scale solar thermal power technology, recently announced it secured $60.6 million in preferred equity financing. This financing was led by KERN Partners and included participation from Generation Investment Management, Starfish Ventures, and Ausra’s founding investors Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
"We are very pleased to have such prestigious investors join our team to assist Ausra in achieving its goals in the solar thermal energy market," said Bob Fishman, president, CEO and chairman of Ausra. "This round of financing will enable us to accelerate delivery of our technology to our customers."
"KERN Partners is excited to be investing in such a dynamic company that is poised to meet the growing demand for sustainable energy with its innovative and cost-competitive solar thermal technology," said Jim Nieuwenburg, general partner with KERN Partners.
Ausra said that it will use the funds from this financing for research and product development and commercial activities, including completing its 5 megawatt Kimberlina solar thermal power project near Bakersfield, California. This will be the first power plant in North America to use Ausra’s core technology – the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar collector and steam generation system. Ausra is also developing a 177-megawatt CLFR power plant for Pacific Gas and Electric Company in central California.
Some background on Ausra is available in the following video, which is an interview by Alternative Energy HQ of Dr. David Mills, Ausra’s Chief Scientific Officer and Founder.
For more information:
- Ausra – Home page
- Ausra Secures $60.6 Million in Funding (October 1, 2008)
- Ausra Secures Series A Funding to Build and Operate Utility-Scale Solar Thermal Electric Power Plants (September 10, 2007)
Infinia Corporation, a Kennewick, Washington-based company, today announced that it has closed a $50 million Series B round of financing.The funds will be used to support the commerical launch of the company’s Infinia Solar System product, which J.D. Sitton, Infinia’s President and CEO, states, "[W]ill change the game in the solar power generation market." The Infinia Solar System combines Infinia’s free-piston Stirling engine with a dish-style solar concentrator to produce three kilowatts of grid-quality electric power. Infinia expects to start manufacturing and selling this product later in 2008.
The funding round announced today was led by GLG Partners. Other participants in this round were Wexford Capital LLC and previous investors Vulcan Capital, Khosla Ventures, EQUUS Total Return, Inc., Idealab and Power Play Energy, LLC. In addition, Infinia announced that John Small of GLG Partners will become a member of the company’s Board of Directors.
Infinia previously announced investments of $3.5 million in February 2005 and $9.5 million in June 2007. For more information:
- Infinia: Home page
- Infinia Corporation Announces $50 Million Financing (press release)
- Infinia Corp. Lands $50 Million for Solar Power System (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- Infinia Corporation Secures $9.5 Million in Venture Financing (press release, June 14, 2007)
- Stirling Technology Company (Now Infinia) Signs Equity Investment Deal (press release, March 2, 2005)
Growing Up Green is an article in the February 11, 2008 issue of Forbes that discusses how a new generation of venture capitalists are focusing on cleantech / greentech. The article spotlights three venture capitalists under 40 — Aileen Lee and Trae Vassallo (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) and Samir Kaul (Khosla Ventures) and states that:
These three are among venture capital’s new guard. Like their predecessors, they’re smart, driven to win and inclined to gravitate to the biggest opportunity they can find. Ten years ago it was software and telecom. Two years ago it was the Web. Now the fad is all things green: renewable fuels, electric cars, smart power grids, clean coal.
The article also highlights different perspectives — both the optimism and concern — in the venture capital community regarding the opportunities in cleantech / greentech. For more information:
- Growing Up Green (Forbes, February 11, 2008)
Today’s edition of the San Francisco Chronicle profiles Vinod Khosla (founder of Khosla Ventures) in one of its 2007 year-in-review "Faces of Business 2007" stories. The profile describes Khosla’s background and his current approach to investing in clean tech / green tech, for example:
His willingness to buck conventional wisdom and finance big, game-changing ideas has placed Khosla at the forefront of green tech. Here, all the challenges are huge, and the technology is disruptive. If things go the way Khosla wants, our entire fossil fuel-dependent energy system will get turned on its head.
One of his startups, Range Fuels, is building a bio-refinery in Georgia that will make ethanol from wood scraps left over from timber harvests. Another, Ausra, plans to build large solar thermal power plants in Central and Southern California, generating power for far less money than rooftop solar panels can. Similar solar plants have been in use in California for decades, but Ausra uses a unique design that should be cheaper to mass produce.
For more information:
- Faces of Business 2007: Vinod Khosla, Venture Capitalist (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Khosla Ventures
According to data released by Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), United States venture capital firms have invested a record annual amount in “cleantech” in 2007. Through September 30, 2007, the amount invested was $2.6 billion, which exceeded the previous annual record of $1.8 billion, which was for the total year of 2006. Note that this 2007 figure includes three large deals totaling approximately $818 million.
The following chart illustrates the trend in cleantech investing by U.S. venture capital firms:
In commenting on cleantech investment, NVCA president Mark Heesen, said:
There are major opportunities for venture capitalists to totally reshape the energy market throughout the world as governments, consumers, and companies are demanding innovation in this space. However, as has been demonstrated in the IT and life science arenas, investing in new technologies can be fraught with pitfalls and is not for the inexperienced or the faint of heart. Prudent, long-term, knowledge based investment in cutting edge technologies has been the hallmark of venture capital in the past and should be the mantra in the CleanTech space as well. Short-term ‘tourists’ should steer clear.
Some highlights of 2007 cleantech venture investing are listed below. Please refer to the announcement from Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association for additional information.
1.) TOP CLEANTECH VC FIRMS
(Q1-Q3 2007, based on number of deals)
Source: Thomson Financial/NVCA
- Khosla Ventures – 14 deals, valued at $68.4 million
- Draper Fisher Jurvetson – 14 deals, valued at $38.5 million
- Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers – 11 deals, valued at $76.8 million
2.) CLEANTECH VENTURE INVESTMENT – BY CATEGORY
Source: Thomson Financial/NVCA
- Solar-Related Energy – $664.6 Million (35 deals)
- Alternative Energy, including Nuclear (excluding wind, solar, geothermal, co-generation) – $317.5 Million (33 deals)
- Power Supplies – $183.9 Million (25 deals)
- Pollution and Recycling – $146.4 Million (19 deals)
- Wind Energy – $62.9 Million (4 deals)