Greentech investor Nancy Pfund — who I once called the most successful and positive greentech investor you haven’t heard of — can’t always be positive. She penned an interesting, albeit depressing, op-ed in the San Jose Mercury this week on how her fund’s solar portfolio company BrightSource pulled its $150 million IPO plans due to poor market conditions, in the same week that Dunkin’ Donuts raised $895 million in a secondary offering.
When you put it that way: yikes! And, as she points out, the analogy between cheap fossil fuels and cheap fast food runs deeper than the public markets. The price of both fast food and fossil fuels are falsely low in the U.S. because the market ignores externalities like climate change for fossil fuels, and problems with mono-agriculture and our ever expanding waistlines for the food industry.
As an investor, I understand that in volatile markets, the tried and true triumphs over game-changing innovation. Capital markets place a premium on proven performance and established market positions in times of uncertainty. As an American, however, I can’t help but worry about this state of affairs.
If you’re worried about Pfund and her firm DBL Investors (stands for Double Bottom Line) now that BrightSource has pulled its IPO — don’t be. Pfund joined JPMorgan in the mid-80′s and founded DBL Investors, which was a spin-out of JPMorgan’s Bay Area Equity Fund I in January of 2008. DBL was an early investor in electric car company Tesla Motors, which went public in the Summer of 2010, an investor in solar rooftop installer SolarCity, which is an IPO candidate and growing quickly, eMeter, which was bought by Siemens in December, and solar installer PowerLight, which was bought by SunPower in 2007. So yeah, a pretty decent portfolio.
Image courtesy of lokate366.