Al Gore Joins Kleiner, Becomes Clean Tech Venture Capitalist

algorenobelprize1.jpgHe has the Nobel Peace Prize and an Academy Award for his eco-work, what more could the former Vice President do for green technology? Ah yes, help a Silicon Valley venture firm invest in it. The word is out this morning that Al Gore will join Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers as a partner. Wow, the venture world hasn’t got this high-profile a VC since Bono and Colin Powell (a KPCB strategic partner). The fact that Gore will be looking into cleantech startups speaks volumes about the buzz around the industry.

We’re also thinking it probably means no presidential run. While Gore will join Kleiner, the investment firm that Gore co-founded, Generation Investment Management, will partner with KPCB on a broader scale; KPCB’s John Doerr will join Generation’s advisory board. Doerr himself is a high-profile green VC and is well-known for his teary-eyed TED speech. Of course, being the eternal green do-gooder that Gore is, he will donate 100 percent of his KPCB salary to the Alliance for Climate Protection.

Beyond the celebrity factor, Al Gore will certainly be able to open doors for portfolio startups — who would refuse an intro via the man that won once won the popular presidential vote? And when it comes to helping influence regulation that will help the cleantech industry, there are few better advocates to have in your corner.

Fortune has a great article on the collaboration between Gore and Doerr, which leads with Gore doing due diligence on KPCB-backed solar thermal startup Ausra, which we’ve covered extensively. Gore tells Fortune he will be an “active, hands-on” partner with KPCB, unlike the rarely heard about KPCB celeb partner Powell.

Fortune also gives us KPCB’s cleantech stats:

“According to Doerr, by 2009 more than a third of Kleiner’s latest fund, which was raised in 2006 and totals $600 million, will be invested in technologies that aim to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. Already Kleiner has invested more than $270 million from various funds in 26 companies that make everything from microbes that scrub old oil wells to electric cars to noncorn ethanol. Twelve of Kleiner’s 22 partners now spend some or all of their time on green investments.”

Oh yeah and one little nagging point:

“Five years after Kleiner Perkins made its first green investment, the firm hasn’t had one ‘exit’ — VC-speak for an IPO or a sale of a company that validates the investment thesis.”


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