Silver Lake VCs: Time to anoint cleantech winners
At the Green Net conference in San Francisco, Silver Lake venture capitalists Adam Grosser and Cathy Zoi talk about a new clean-tech fund they are starting backed by billionaire investor George Soros. Grosser talks about the fund's strategy to provide growth capital to green companies with close to self-sustaining business models.
Time to anoint cleantech winners
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>> Background music When we sat down, Katie, it was so apparent to us that there was an opportunity that was incredibly underserved. I think you just have to start and put some historical context around it, and one of the things that we sat and looked at was how has energy, broadly speaking, been consumed by people? And if you look at it, you know, people have been around the planet about 3 million years, and we only domesticated or cultivated fire about half a million years ago, and we only stopped using fire as the primary heat source or energy source in our lives about 150 years ago, and so in 150 years, we went from really low value fuels to high value fuels that changed the nature of civilization, and we really feel like this is the cusp of what will be called the second great energy transformation, and when we stopped and we looked at, sort of, you overlaid investing in energy and resources on top of that thesis, what you came up with was this idea that there were sort of three phases there, too. There was this what we call the wildcatting phase, the, you know, drill a hole, most of them are dry, and it's not very interesting. The second phase is when the venture capitalists like Foundation and others jumped in and put a lot of bets on a lot of things that, you know, candidly all of us didn't necessarily understand the nuances of, and only a few people were successful, and I think we're entering a stage now where there's been well over 50 billion dollars invested in the last 10 years starting companies in the sectors, and it's time to sort of anoint the winners if you will and to create market leaders that can lead this next transformation. So we are focused on providing growth capital to companies that are close to being self-sustaining and that need a slug of investment and perhaps some guidance to help them achieve their sort of their rightful stature in the marketplace.
>> There is a nearly infinitely populated landscape of opportunities. I mean one of the neat things about being at the Department of Energy during the last couple of years is we were kind of in the inaudible seat, and the capital markets stunk, but almost a huge amount of the deal flow that was happening in energy came through the Department of Energy in some way, shape, or form. So, you know, I am so excited about the opportunities that are from the really, really early stage, all the really innovative things that that are happening in the basic science into that early stage stuff, but what Adam is talking about is that our main focus is going to be is taking the things that are, that are out there technology's been proven and helping those scale up because we do have this confluence of public policy inaudible, right? We have to have, we have to address environmental concerns, which are near and dear to this audience, I think. We have to address energy security, national security concerns, and we actually have to reinvigorate this economy, and, you know, energy is the invisible engine of economic growth in this country, and so we kind of feel like we can help shepherd that wonderfully, beautifully given our experience and investing our experience in the energy arena. So we're assembling a team of people that's going to have a lot of fun doing it. Background music
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