A Venture Capital Firm: Mohr Davidow Ventures

  • June 10, 2009

Will Coleman's venture fund, Mohr Davidow Ventures, with $2 billion under management, is putting money into emerging energy generation technologies for a pragmatic reason: it believes there's a lot of money to be made there. "Cleantech venture capital is not a mission-driven business," said Coleman, a partner at Mohr Davidow. "It's focused on real opportunities and real markets. We wouldn't be here investing if we didn't believe that."1

Mohr Davidow Ventures, based in Menlo Park, California, focused exclusively on Internet-related technology investments when it was created in the 1980s, and has since broadened its portfolio to include technologies related to the life sciences, and, most recently, businesses in the clean energy economy. The firm's current investments include support for Nanosolar, a solar panel manufacturer in California, and Hycrete, a developer of more sustainable construction materials.2

Coleman said he pays close attention to a company's location when deciding whether to invest. The state's policy climate plays a major role in his decision, he said, and he is interested in everything from potential tax incentives to the existence of a strong renewable portfolio standard, which he said helps create market stability. He also believes government investments are essential to stimulate and support the research and development that is necessary before technological innovations can be brought to market. "We play a catalyzing role in developing technologies that can be deployed commercially," he said. "But in order to do that you have to have a deep pool of research and development going on in universities and other research centers. The opportunities for us really depend on the health and depth of those pools."

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1 Pew interview with Will Coleman, partner, Mohr Davidow Ventures, March 27, 2009.

2 Mohr Davidow Web site, http://www.mdv.com/ (accessed April 28, 2009).

Topics: Energy, Environment