25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech


With their dotcom and broadband-based winnings in tow, serial entrepreneurs of the information technology age have been taking the plunge into the energy and cleantech markets, looking to recreate their e-successes. Some are finding more success than others, and some are, frankly, finding no success at all. But these are new(ish) markets for innovation, and someone’s bound to find the Google of cleantech out of all these biofuel, solar material, water purifier and wind turbine firms. Will it be one of these 25?

  1. Shai Agassi, Founder, CEO Project Better Place.
  2. Bob Metcalfe, Partner, Polaris Venture Partners, CEO GreenFuel.
  3. Vinod Khosla, Founder Khosla Ventures.
  4. Sunil Paul, Seed investor, early stage cleantech, Nanosolar, Oorja.
  5. John Doerr, Partner, Kleiner Perkins.
  6. Elon Musk, Chairman, Tesla, Chairman, CEO SolarCity
  7. Steve Jurvetson, Partner Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
  8. Bill Gross, Founder Idealab.
  9. Ray Lane, Partner Kleiner Perkins.
  10. Al Gore, Chairman Generation Investment Managment, Partner Kleiner Perkins.
  11. Raj Atluru, Partner Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
  12. Steve Westly, Founder The Westly Group.
  13. Dan Whaley, Founder, CEO Climos.
  14. Martin Eberhard, Founder, former CEO Tesla.
  15. Martin Roscheisen, Founder, CEO Nanosolar.
  16. Martin Tobias, Former CEO Imperium Renewables.
  17. Manny Hernandez, CFO SunPower.
  18. Jonathan Gay, CEO of GreenBox
  19. Jeff Skoll, Founder Skoll Foundation, investor in Tesla, Nanosolar.
  20. Mitch Mandich, CEO Range Fuels.
  21. Bill Joy, Partner Kleiner Perkins.
  22. Larry Gross, CEO of Edeniq.
  23. Bruce Sohn, President First Solar.
  24. David Kaplan, Founder V2Green.
  25. David Cope, CEO of PurFresh.


Mary Catherine

This site is interesting to me as a new student of Going Green & just hearing about Smart electric meters with Googles’ help to see where the money goes regarding power hungry electrical appliances in our home & how we can save as well as consume less energy. People switch careers as that’s where jobs & companies are going – green. Whatever a CEOs gender is shouldn’t debilitate the ability to innovate with any of these 25 CEOs listed.
If anyone would like to share an alternative mode for watching the spikes in whatever power hog is representative in my home, since our electric company is still in the planning stage, please let me know. Software for monitoring your home for an individual homeowner is expensive & is only part of the monitoring system, I learned today. Thanks to Future Facts for your post.
Jim, thanks for your imput on computers & Infotech.


Lance – Agassi was never in the rumning. He was Plattners choice, not Kagermanns. Also there are not many Israelis running DAX 30 companies.


Money is fungible! Most of the folks on this list simply switched where they were putting their dollars. I think the more interesting story is about those who switched from IT or other tech careers into working in cleantech roles – not just as CEO or ‘money man.’

lance lee

Shai Agassi, Founder, CEO Project Better Place.

i beg to differ….he got passed for the top job at SAP and and no other place to go


Ray The Money Man

This is the real deal. Guys like Mitch are hard to come by. A real money maker and that is all that will make this industry go!

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bob dobalino

they are going to lose their shirts er skirts


Jim, IT goes hand in hand with green tech, and if you were right, it would be narrow minded to discard them.


I don’t think ‘jim’ the sarcastic knows what he’s talking about!
Cleantech, whether it’s building EVs or power plants is a direct result of advances in IT and is directly related. Large scale production of Li-ion batteries for laptop computers and high powered IGBTs from semi conductor companies inspired the first high performance EV demonstrator the tzero. Software will become an increasingly important part of EVs as they become totally dependent on microprocessors to run everything from battery management to their AC motors, brakes and even automated vehicle dynamics.
How about Sterling solar dishes that have to track the sun from dawn to dusk, only really possible with PID routines run on cheap silicon chips. Even PV solar, which are mostly made from silicon. It’s still all about technological development with what ever the current level of technology allows and it’s the same game of guessing where the future might lead and pushing the state-of-the-art to get an edge on the competition.

Brok Enheimen

I noticed that most of your stories focus on USA backed companies, but here in Germany there is a very large emerging economy around green science. The University in Salsbury has large green science and economics department. Someone should do a list of which countries are the most green taking education, finance, and law into consideration. You will USA is among the worst.

Kathleen Lunn

Hello Brok,

Please visit http://www.greenlegalmatters.com website and consider attending. We are bringing together top legal experts in areas related to green law, finance and technology. The April 26-28, 2010 conference in New Orleans is scheduled between the two weekends of the renowned New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

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Kathleen Lunn
The Alchemy Group, Inc.
(610) 772-1063


Something all these infotech people should remember regarding computer technology vs. energy technology:

Infotech is basically a technology of the abstract: bits per second, operations per second; Gbytes per sector. All of these are abstractions of logical 1’s or 0’s which fundamentally, could be represented with the presence or absence of a single electron. That is to say; their technology is not closely related (at least theoretically) to physical limits, at least not yet anyway.

Compare this to energy. A watt is a watt. You get something to produce 100 watts; you can’t simply change your lithographing strategy and increase its yield by a factor of 10. You have to fight for every bit of improvement. Welcome to the REAL, real world.

Rory Gawler

Why are there no women (or very few – some I couldn’t tell) on this list?

A somewhat sad commentary, is that not?

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