Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Vinod Khosla, Jack Ma, John Doerr and 15 other high-profile investors have formed a new venture firm, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, that will pour at least $1 billion into cleantech companies over the next 20 years.
The firm’s goal, according to its own website, will be: “to provide everyone in the world with access to reliable, affordable power, food, goods, transportation, and services without contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.”
BEV will invest in tech ventures at any stage, from seed through commercialization. The deals will focus on electricity, manufacturing, agriculture, buildings and transportation.
Cleantech was once the rage in Silicon Valley, with total venture capital dollars invested in clean tech hitting $6.1 billion in 2008 before the recession. But cleantech became a dirty word following the cratering of startups that had taken venture capital, as well as significant amounts of government loans, grants, subsidies or tax credits.
Along with scores of others that shut down, failing to save the planet or to realize meaningful returns for investors, were: solar panel makers Solyndra; Aptera, which attempted to make highly fuel-efficient cars; and waste-to-fuel company Kior. Remember them?