Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), one of the leading venture capital firms in the U.S., recently committed to invest $150 million in green technologies. This week the company announced a $50 million in ethanols company Altra Inc, and annnounced the new KPCB Prize for Green Innovation as part of KPCB's "Greentech initiative."
"Altra is a national leader in ethanol production," said John Doerr, KPCB partner. "Its unique, proprietary technology and strong, passionate team make it a sustainable, high-impact business. Altra is creating a nationwide ethanol production footprint by acquiring and 'speeding up' existing, traditional corn-to-ethanol plants and by 'starting up' new ones."
Based in Los Angeles, California, Altra has signed a definitive agreement to acquire California's largest operating ethanol plant.
Altra has invested in five biofuels plants, which will have the capacity to produce 175 million gallons of ethanol and 80 million gallons of biodiesel each year. The total financing of over US$50 million included funding from KPCB, The Angeleno Group, Khosla Ventures, Omninet Private Equity and Sage Capital Partners.
KPCB also announced the KPCB Prize for Green Innovation, a US$100,000 annual prize awarded for the best technology or policy innovation in Greentech. A panel of five independent judges will select and announce the first winner in this fall.
"This award will encourage innovation in sustainable, green growth," said KPCB partner Brook Byers. "We will bring worldwide recognition to entrepreneurs who achieve breakthroughs in green energy generation, storage, conservation or policies, whether from an individual or a team, whether public or private, anywhere in the world."
KPCB today inaugurates the Greentech Innovation Network with 50 of the world's leading entrepreneurs, scientists and policymakers. They are gathering from the United States, Asia, Europe and South America to build a strategic map for evaluating needs and encouraging innovation, and to forge new partnerships. Insights from Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a "geo-green", will keynote the networking event.
KPCB partner Bill Joy will lead a series of inspirational talks by four green thought leaders: Dr. Frances Arnold, California Institute of Technology professor; Dr. Jose Goldemberg, Environmental Secretary of Sao Paulo, Brazil and Universidade de Sao Paulo professor; Dr. R.K. Pachauri, UN Global International Panel of Climate Change Chairman and Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute; and Dr. Martha Symko-Davies, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Senior Project Leader.
"Three huge trends are driving our Greentech agenda," Doerr explained. "First, urbanization is the largest trend on the planet. Four billion people will move into megacities in the next 50 years, and they all want green transportation, water, and energy. Second, climate change and global warming are accelerating at alarming rates. And third, we are addicted to oil, funding both sides of the war on terrorists, weakening democracy and our economy and damaging the environment. We must change our policies and practices and accelerate innovation. The KPCB Greentech Innovation Network is an ongoing initiative for collaboration among the world's best innovators."
"We have been quietly investing in Greentech for several years," added Ray Lane, KPCB partner. "We've backed four new ventures since announcing our Greentech initiative in February of this year. These, together with five previous ventures, are innovating for green and sustainable growth. We're seeing more and more entrepreneurs address critical environmental needs. This workshop is not a conference, it is a networking event to 'help solve the problem' by collaborating in five Greentech areas. They are electricity generation and storage, electricity efficiency, alternative fuels, transportation efficiency and carbon reduction policies."
KPCB has previously announced investments in Lilliputian Systems, which produces micro fuel cells for portable and wireless devices, and Miasole (www.miasole.com), which makes a flexible, low-cost photovoltaic cell for large-scale solar energy. Six other Greentech ventures are in stealth mode.
About Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Since its founding in 1972, KPCB has backed entrepreneurs in over 450 ventures, including AOL, Align Technology, Amazon.com, Citrix, Compaq Computer, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Genomic Health, Google, IDEC Pharmaceuticals, Intuit, Juniper Networks, Pomega 5, Netscape, Lotus, LSI Logic, Sun Microsystems, Symantec, VeriSign and Xilinx. More than 150 of the firm's portfolio companies have gone public.