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Quiet Quercus Trust's 2 Battery Plays

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Our favorite stealthy private equity investor, David Gelbaum’s Quercus Trust, is involved in two investments in battery/energy storage startups, re-upping on one existing investment and joining on as new investor in the other.

The new investment comes with the disclosure that Quercus played a part in Firefly Energy’s $15 million Series C round of financing. We had reported the round last month when Khosla Ventures and Infield Capital were announced as new investors in the lead-acid battery startup. Today Quercus Trust was added as a leading investor in the round.

Firefly is a company developing cutting-edge lead-acid battery technology that was spun out of construction and mining equipment maker Caterpillar in 2003. Firefly says on its web site that it has developed a battery that is powerful and light enough to give the hybrid vehicle market a significant boost

The second tidbit of news we found by looking in the first quarter report of Quercus’s existing battery investment, Axion Power. In the report, Axion said it expects an additional commitment of $10 million from Quercus Trust by the end of June. Quercus had already invested $8 million and agreed to invest the additional $10 million, but a timeline was not given.

Axion needs the funds. The company, which develops advanced lead-carbon batteries, reported a net loss of $3 million for the first quarter of 2008. (Although, that wasn’t so bad compared to a net loss of $6.5 million for the first quarter of 2007.) The company says it will use the money to install a first-generation automated electrode fabrication line.

6 Responses to “Quiet Quercus Trust's 2 Battery Plays”

  1. I have a great interview from 2006 at the end of my Toaster66 documentary with the chief engineer behind the Firefly idea, which is to bring lead chemistries up from the rear so the lead acid lobby hold on the battery industry can be minimized, as to allow more efficient new chemistries to enter the market place.

    It’s all about job displacement, and resistance to change. Better batteries are to the battery industry what LEDs are to CFB… the writing on the wall… higher efficiency = less demand = less jobs = suppression of information, twarting progress. T

    he planet comes first, but tell that to a Union worker about to lose his job because his skill is no longer required. There is no good reason why lead, or nimh, or li-ion have to cost more than the other… it’s all economy of scale.

    Lead is probably one of the most efficiently recycled metal, that industry wants to survive. Without that industry, all the lead now in circulation, without any new industrial application, would end up in landfills!

    The moment a better chemistry unseats lead, in price, weight, ease of production… it spells the end of an entire trade. Same thing happened to type setters after the Mac was introduced.

    But there comes a time when you need to make hard decisions. That’s where government has been MIA… hiding under the table, waiting for the storm of controversy to blow over, so all these Congressmen can get re-elected.