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Summary:

VCs at firms like Sequoia Capital or Andreessen Horowitz might scoff at the call for attention to a positive fund value, but in the cleantech ecosystem a significant positive growth in value is pretty rare.

Bridgelux's LED chips, image courtesy of Bridgelux.
photo: Image courtesy of Bridgelux

Not all venture capitalists lost their shirts in the cleantech investing cycle over the past five to six years. Canadian venture capital firm Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital actually put out a press release on Monday noting that it’s latest early stage cleantech fund — which it closed four years ago and which is chock full of young cleantech startups — has seen its collective value go up by 75 percent.

VCs at firms like Sequoia Capital or Andreessen Horowitz might scoff at the call for attention to a positive fund value, but in the cleantech ecosystem a significant positive growth in value is pretty rare. In fact, I’ve heard discussions of cleantech portfolios being waaay, way (way) down in valuation for many VCs’ funds.

Green Overdrive: Brammo Motorcycle thumbnailChrysalix put money into 18 follow-on rounds and one new investment in 2012, and the company’s overall portfolio includes startups like nuclear company General Fusion, micro fuel cell maker Angstrom Power, electric scooter company Brammo, solar steam generator maker GlassPoint, and GaN Systems, which makes power conversion chips. Chrysalix’s new investment in 2012 was Axine Water Technologies, which makes clean water technology.

Now that some of the generalist VCs are exiting making cleantech investments, investors that are sticking to their green guns are coming out of the woodwork to throw down their gauntlets. Vinod Khosla says his cleantech portfolio is doing just fine, thank you very much, and he will continue to invest in the space. Others like DBL Investors, which backed both Tesla and SolarCity — two of the most successful cleantech IPOs — clearly have done well (see my profile The Most Successful and Positive Greentech VC You Haven’t Heard of).

Still others that are investing in CleanWeb, or clean IT, continue to be excited about investing in companies that are using IT to manage resources, like energy, food and water. As Mitch Lowe of Greenstart, a digital green accelerator, said on a panel I moderated last month: “Cleantech is dead, like the Internet was dead in 2000.”

Images of Bridgelux and Brammo technologies. Courtesy of Bridgelux and GigaOM.

  1. Ugh, that ‘cleantech is dead’ quote is dead.

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  2. Felix Hoenikker Tuesday, December 18, 2012

    Ohhhhh so they’re not actually making money yet, the valuation of their portfolio companies rose.

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  3. Their portfolio reads like the walking dead – likely propped up valuations with inside rounds. Micro fuel cells? Fusion? These are capital intensive companies that are not going to return their investments in this climate anytime soon.

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  4. A 70% UNREALIZED gain 4 years into a typical 10 year fund life does not represent ‘making money’! But reporting it as such does indicate ‘desperation’.
    A better indication of their ability to ‘make money’ would be for them to share their REALIZED performance from their older 2 funds…..but I bet they won’t……

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