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Next-Gen Biofuel Cheat Sheet: Where Are They Now?

Over three years ago I put together this charticle on 10 of Khosla Venture’s biofuel bets. Given a couple of these companies have gone public, been sold off, or have stalled, I decided to take a look back at the bulk of these firms and update this cheat sheet with what I know of their recent status.

Company Founded Technology Investors Where are they now?
Gevo 2005 Gevo retrofits ethanol plants to produce isobutanol using biocatalysts and fermentation Khosla Ventures, Virgin Green Funds, Total Energy Ventures International, Burrill, and Malaysian Capital Gevo went public this week, raising $95.7 million after offering expenses. The company wont be producing isobutanol until mid 2012, and generates any revenue to date from selling ethanol.
Range Fuels 2004 as Kergy The company uses heat and steam to convert biomass into syngas, which is then processed into alcohols that can be separated and refined to produce different types of biofuels. Khosla Ventures, Passport Capital, BlueMountain, Leaf Clean Energy Company and Pacific Capital Group (with participation by the CalPERs), as well as an $80 million loan guarantee from the USDA, and a $76 million grant from the DOE Range Fuels broke ground on its Georgia plant in 2007, started producing methanol first and then small amounts of cellulosic ethanol, but earlier this year laid off workers and is reportedly shuttering its plant soon.
Coskata 2006 Coskata uses a hybrid of thermochemical and biological steps, gasifying the feedgas to syngas and using bacteria to make ethanol Khosla Ventures, Advanced Technology Ventures, Great Point Ventures, GM Coskata came out of stealth in 2008, and then stalled in the mid-2009 financing crunch. But recently Coskata was awarded a $250 million loan guarantee from the USDA.
Amyris 2003 Amyris genetically modifies microorganisms, primarily yeast, and uses them as living factories to convert plant-sourced sugars into target molecules, including biofuel. Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures, and French oil giant Total. The company went public in April 2010, plans to produce biofuel commercially this year, and is trading at over $30 per share.
Cilion 2006 The plan was to convert corn into ethanol to power cars and trucks more cheaply and more sustainably than traditional corn ethanol. Khosla Ventures, Western Milling, Virgin Fuels, Ron Burkle, The Yucaipa Companies The last trace I can find of Cilion is that its plant was reportedly idle in late 2009, and was being restarted by AE Biofuels in 2010.
Mascoma 2006 Producer of biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass using microorganisms and enzymes. Valero, Khosla Ventures, Flagship Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Vantage Point Venture Partners, Atlas Venture, Pinnacle Ventures. Mascoma’s delayed its commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, but last month received $50 million from oil refiner Valero to build the plant, plus an equity investment, and an off take agreement.
LS9 2005 Developed a genetically modified version of e.coli bacteria to make diesel. BlackRock, Khosla Ventures, Flagship Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners LS9 raised a round of funding in Dec. 2010, which it says will go towards fulfilling deals with partners Procter and Gamble and building out its demonstration facility in Florida
AltraBiofuels 2004 Leveraged various kinds of biofuel manufacturing processes. Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, Angeleno Group, Omninet Private Equity, Sage Capital Partners AltraBiofuels spun out a new company called EdeniQ in mid-2008, and later that year reportedly closed its plants. EdeniQ has more recently raised funds from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the Westly Group, Kleiner, Morgan Stanley, Advanced Equities, and others.
Verenium 1994 as Diversa Produces enzyme based cellulosic ethanol. Khosla Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures, Charles River, Rho Ventures Diversa, which went public in 2000, bought Celunol for $150M, and rebranded as Verenium in 2007. In mid-2010 BP bought up Verenium’s cellulosic ethanol business for $98.3 million.
KiOR 2007, spun out of BIOeCON Uses a catalyst originally developed to help the oil industry break down heavy crude oil and uses it to aid the process of pyrolysis, or super-heating organic matter in the absence of oxygen to break it down into a substitute for crude oil. Khosla Ventures KiOR raised $110 million last year and received a term sheet for a $1 billion loan guarantee from the DOE.

Image courtesy of NREL.

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