Gore Joins Top Shelf Venture Capital Firm

Al Gore will be pushing alternative energy start-ups through his partnership with KPCB.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), the Silicon Valley venture capital firm famous for bankrolling such high-tech success stories as Sun Microsystems, Compaq Computer and Google, trotted out Al Gore as its newest partner. In his part time role at the firm, Gore will focus on finding, funding and advising alternative-energy start-ups while counseling the firm on greening its other investments. The firm’s decision to tap Gore underscores the prominence of alternative energy (increasingly known within the sector as "cleantech," short for clean technology) as the so-called "new, new thing" to high-flying venture capitalists.

For his part, Gore says he didn’t join KPCB for the money, but rather for the opportunity to leverage additional sources of capital for the betterment of the environment. In fact, he has pledged to donate his salary from the firm to the Alliance for Climate Protection, the non-profit he helped start to "persuade people of the importance, urgency and feasibility of adopting and implementing effective and comprehensive solutions for the climate crisis" (in the words of the group’s website). Of course, Gore doesn’t necessarily need the money, as he already made a bundle of cash as a director at Apple and a special advisor to Google, not to mention from his own green investment management firm Generation Investment Management LLP, launched in 2004 with Goldman Sachs veteran David Blood to make money for investors by betting on companies large and small that prioritize sustainable and clean technologies.

Besides hiring Gore, KPCB has also struck up a formal partnership with Generation where the two firms will work together to "find, fund and accelerate green business, technology and policy solutions with the greatest potential to help solve the current climate crisis," according to a press release on Generation’s website. As a joint entity, the two firms will provide funding and global business-building expertise to a range of public and private businesses and entrepreneurs in the cleantech sector.

"The message is you can transport the skills of Silicon Valley—and must transport some of those skills outside of the valley," Gore told reporters. "We are calling out to all the innovators and technologists and inventors to send us the best ideas they have."

Sources: KPCB; Generation;