News and Intelligence
RoseRyan lists Bay Area’s top 25 movers & shakers in cleantech
(Newark, Calif., January 25, 2010) — Who will be the Steve Jobs of the emerging cleantech sector 25 years from now?
The RoseRyan crystal ball is in the shop, but we’ve compiled a list of 25 Northern California cleantech leaders who have a shot at it, based on informal polling during key cleantech community events in 2009.
While we don’t know if any of these individuals will become an industry titan, each has contributed significantly to the industry’s growth.
About the list
This list was compiled by Chris Vane, RoseRyan’s business development and cleantech specialist, who has been immersing himself in the cleantech community for the last two years, meeting with people one on one, in small gatherings, and at a slew of industry events: the Cleantech Investor Summit, Cleantech Open, Venture Capital Task Force, Mayors Summit, Smartgrid Summit, Green Building Summit, BioEconomy Summit and West Coast Green to name just a few.
Chris asked everyone he met who they thought the top 25 influencers were, and came up with this thoroughly unscientific list. You may disagree with some of his choices—heck, maybe all of them—but it’s the first attempt we know of to sort out who’s who in this increasingly important sector. Want to quibble? E-mail Chris.
RoseRyan tackles critical finance assignments for companies at all stages, with particular expertise in cleantech, high tech, life sciences, and nonprofits. Our finance gurus serve as outsourced CFOs, prepare companies for IPOs and M&As, perform immaculate corporate governance work and are sought after for expert advice on accounting challenges like revenue recognition issues. Our roots in Silicon Valley go deep—we’ve been getting high-flying companies’ financial houses in order for 17 years—so our clients also benefit from our vast network of partners who can help their businesses grow.
In 2009, RoseRyan added a dozen cleantech clients to its roster. The firm’s cleantech clients include Silver Spring Networks, MiaSole, NanoSolar, Transoptic, Amberix and Electron Vault.
RoseRyan’s 2009 Top 25 People in Cleantech in Northern California
This is Chris Vane’s list of 25 influencers, in alphabetical order, followed by another 15 people to watch in 2010. Both lists include a diverse mix of entrepreneurs, politicians, lawyers, media and nonprofit leaders.
- Dan Adler, president of CalCEF (California Clean Energy Fund), ACORE (American Council on Renewable Energy) board member, Cleantech Open Board of Advisors member, and AB 32 Working Committee member. Acting as the connective tissue for policy, finance and technology interests, CalCEF has created a series of investment vehicles and public interest institutions—including the CalCEF Angel Fund, the U.C. Davis Energy Efficiency Center, and CalCEF Innovations—to accelerate the development of clean energy solutions.
- Gil Friend, CEO of Natural Logic. Gil is a systems ecologist and business strategist with nearly 40 years’ experience in business, communications and environmental innovation. An author and lecturer, he is also a founding board member of the Sustainable Business Alliance, Sustainable Berkeley and the California Sustainable Business Council. He serves on the executive board of OpenEco.org and the advisory boards of Clean Fish, WattBot and the Green World Campaign.
- Neal Dikeman, founding partner of Jane Capital Partners, a merchant and investment banking firm focused on energy and environmental technology. He is the chair of Cleantech.org and is on the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative board. He previously cofounded CarbonFlow, SC Power Systems Inc. and its successor Zenergy. He is a frequent blogger producing insightful comments on the state of the cleantech industry.
- Matt Golden, co-founder and president of Recurve (formerly Sustainable Spaces). Matt was recently recognized by the Building Performance Institute as the first recipient of the Tony Woods Award for Excellence in Advancing the Home Performance Industry. He speaks extensively on building science and integrated green design to groups such as the American Institute of Architects, West Coast Green, Build It Green and others. He is a member of the following boards: Department of Energy Home Performance Council, Building Performance Institute, California Building Performance Contractors Association, Build It Green and Efficiency First.
- Chris Gronet, CEO and founder of Solyndra Inc. His team developed a unique technology that employs cylindrical modules that capture sunlight across a 360-degree photovoltaic surface capable of converting direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight into electricity. Chris holds over 20 U.S. patents in thin film and related technologies. Solyndra was offered a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. government and has raised over $200 million in venture capital.
- Paul Holland, general partner at Foundation Capital. His firm is actively involved in multiple green initiatives. He has led Foundation’s vast efforts in cleantech and focuses on early stage startups. Foundation is known for “walking the walk”, and its offices are LEED Platinum certified. Paul serves on the boards of CalStar and Serious Materials.
- Vinod Khosla, founder and CEO of Khosla Ventures, a venture advisor for emerging growth cleantech companies. He sits on the boards of many companies and is involved with a diverse group of cleantech enterprises. Vinod is a charter member of TiE, a nonprofit global network of entrepreneurs and professionals founded in 1992. He also is a leader in social entrepreneurship, with a special emphasis on microfinance. He has invested in Soladigm, Amyris, LS9 and many other cleantech companies.
- Scott Lang, chairman, president and CEO of Silver Spring Networks, a leader in building the smart grid. Scott was named Ernst & Young’s 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year in Northern California in the cleantech category and CRO Magazine’s Responsible CEO of the Year in the private company category. Silver Spring Networks has been building aggressive relationships with utilities including PG&E, Florida Power and Light and AEP to accelerate the adoption of the smart grid.
- Joel Makower, a leading author, strategist and speaker on cleantech and sustainable business practices. Joel is the chairman and executive editor of Greener World Media and producer of GreenBiz.com, an acclaimed web portal on business and the environment. He is a senior advisor to VantagePoint Venture Partners, co-founder of Clean Edge Inc. and senior strategist for GreenOrder. He also serves as an advisor to many businesses.
- Elon Musk, CEO and chairman of Tesla Motors, one of the most advanced, all-electric American car companies. He leads Tesla’s product strategy, product development and design efforts. Elon has been involved in key product decisions since the start of Tesla Motors, co-leading design of the Tesla Roadster, for which he won an Index and a Global Green award.
- Rex Northen, executive director of the Cleantech Open. Rex expanded the organization to include three regions and a global ideas competition. He developed a national training component for all regions and ran the first global and national awards event. The Cleantech Open is the leading cleantech business plan competition in the United States and has created an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business partners.
- Kay O’Neill, previously co-founder and director of Acterra’s Be the Change Environmental Leadership Program, which has trained local leaders in cleantech. Kay is now manager of the Green Jobs Academies for San Mateo County, where she has created a model program that trains and places residents in green jobs. This innovative program is part of a grassroots movement across the nation. Her first class graduated in the fall of 2009.
- David Pascal, cleantech and green business advocate for the city of San Francisco, founder of the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative and leader of the Copenhagen Café. The San Francisco Carbon Collaborative is a nonprofit partnership of government, business and environmental organizations working to accelerate the development of effective policy and market-based responses to climate change.
- Sue Preston, general partner at the CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund, author of Angel Financing for Entrepreneurs and former entrepreneur-in-residence with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Since 2007, Sue has led the Angel Fund’s effort to produce an attractive financial return on investments through the commercial advancement of clean energy technologies. In 2009, she rolled out the Angel Network, dedicated to educating cleantech investors and entrepreneurs on all aspects of the sector, from economics to technologies, policy, stimulus and regulatory issues.
- Chuck Reed, mayor of San Jose. His pioneering green vision has served as a road map for making San Jose a global center of cleantech innovation and environmental sustainability. In the past two years, 1,500 cleantech jobs have been created and San Jose has embarked on a number of ambitious projects, including efforts to convert to LED streetlights and construct a new waste-to-energy biogas facility.
- Lyndon Rive, CEO and co-founder of SolarCity. He has led the effort to significantly reduce the cost of solar power and built a trusted national brand. SolarCity serves more than 500 communities in three states. Lyndon has continued to expand the company’s offerings and provide innovative services to clients.
- Jigar Shah, founder of Sun Edison, which he grew to be the largest solar energy provider in the United States. He is now CEO of Virgin’s Carbon War Room, a unique initiative started by Richard Branson and Virgin United to harness the energy, influence and resources of some of the world’s top entrepreneurs to help revolutionize the carbon economy.
- Stephen Schneider, founder of the Journal of Climatic Change, senior participant in the 2007 Nobel Prize–winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and one of the world’s leading climatologists. His work has been instrumental in framing both the internal debates within the scientific community and the public debate on understanding and dealing with climate change. He presented the V 4.0 Climate Change Report in Copenhagen and is a Stanford University professor, senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford, and board member of Global Green USA.
- Kevin Surace, president and CEO of Serious Materials, a manufacturer of sustainable building materials. He has led the effort to develop advanced materials and processes for the building industry that require little energy to manufacture and dramatically improve energy efficiency.
- Richard Swanson, co-founder of SunPower, one of the most successful utility-scale and residential solar producers. His vision of developing alternative energy while he was a faculty member at Stanford was the seed of a billion-dollar business. SunPower is known for producing some of the highest sunlight conversion efficiency rates in the world. Richard has received the William R. Cherry award by the IEEE for outstanding contributions to the photovoltaic field.
- Annette Walker, first executive director of the Cleantech Open, a nonprofit that runs the nation’s premier business plan competition for cleantech ventures. She built a scalable operation that was ultimately able to expand nationally and globally. Her current focus is on building communities in cleantech and helping entrepreneurs identify appropriate technologies for utilities and the broader marketplace.
- Steve Westly, CEO and managing partner of the Westly Group, a venture advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs build cleantech companies and has raised over $100 million. He is on the boards of Tesla and the biofuels company Altra, and consults for a variety of cleantech startups. Steve is a frequent speaker at cleantech industry events.
- Lyuba Wolf, board member and co-founder of Energy Crossroads, a global coalition of rising young leaders from many sectors and disciplines that aims to advance clean energy as a unifying solution to national security, climate and economic competitiveness challenges. She initiated the inaugural Energy Crossroads conference at Stanford and served as its first conference chair. She is now working at Tesla.
- Eric Wesoff, founder of Greentech Media and senior analyst. He is always on the front edge of cleantech reporting and is a frequent lecturer, panelist and volunteer at cleantech events. He is often a facilitator of provocative discussions on everything from nuclear power to the smart grid. Eric has authored the Venture Power Report and has expertise in many cleantech areas including solar power, fuel cells, biofuels and advanced batteries.
- Clint Wilder, contributing editor at Clean Edge and co-author of The Clean Tech Revolution. Clint is active in many cleantech initiatives. He serves as a facilitator in the Energy and Climate Change track of the Clinton Global Initiative, is a founding member of the Clean Economy Network and blogs for the Green section of the Huffington Post.
People to watch in 2010
- Jeff Anderson, founder of Cleantech Bay and founding co-chair of Cleantech and Green Business for Obama. The aim of Cleantech for Obama is to build a database of companies and people employed by cleantech businesses so that people are aware of the industry’s ability to create jobs. The group also promotes the idea that cleantech businesses can ultimately help reduce gas prices by developing new energy alternatives and efficient cars.
- Margaret Bruce, director of the Center for Climate Action. She is a co-founder and board member of Sustainable Silicon Valley and has served on the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board. She has over 20 years of environmental management, advocacy and policy experience in both the private and public sectors. She most recently served as western regional director for The Climate Group, where she worked on accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy through engagement with global and regional corporate and government leaders.
- Ralph Cavanaugh, senior attorney and co-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council Energy Program. Ralph serves on the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board and is vice chair of the Coalition on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technologies, which unites representatives of the environmental, energy efficiency and renewable energy communities.
- Aimee Christensen, founder and CEO of Christensen Global Strategies, which focuses on educating business leaders and getting them to participate in local and worldwide cleantech issues. She is currently applying her experience in law, policy, philanthropy and communications to providing practical guidance to clients in all sectors that are seeking to help solve the global challenges of climate change. She was previously at Google.org.
- Peter Darbee, chairman, CEO and president of PG&E Corp. He has spearheaded major new initiatives to establish PG&E as an industry front-runner in deploying clean technologies. He is a member of the Edison Electric Institute Executive Committee, serves as co-chair of the EEI Committee on the Environment and is a member of the Clean Energy Group CEO board. He has become one of the industry’s most active leaders on the issues of climate change, energy efficiency, renewable energy, the smart grid and other aspects of energy and environmental policy.
- Peter Drekmeier, co-founder of Bay Area Action/Acterra. Formerly the executive director of Earth Day Network, Peter is a dedicated and accomplished civic leader with a long record of service. Most recently, he was mayor of Palo Alto in 2009. He is committed to making Palo Alto a leader in renewable energy, green buildings and waste reduction.
- Warren Karlenzig, founder of Common Current, a consulting firm that focuses on applying sustainability systems thinking—backed by a collaborative, data-driven approach—to developing projects, policies, processes and funding. Warren is also the author of How Green Is Your City? and works on many local and international issues.
- Felix Kramer, founder, president and CEO of CalCars, a Palo Alto–based nonprofit bringing together entrepreneurs, engineers, environmentalists and consumers to promoting 100+ mpg plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Felix is a passionate player in the electric vehicle space in Northern California.
- L. Hunter Lovins, author and lecturer, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and president and founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions, which educates senior decision-makers in business, government and civil society on how to restore and enhance natural and human capital while increasing prosperity and quality of life. Hunter is also a founding professor of business at the Presidio School of Management, one of the first accredited programs offering an MBA in sustainable management.
- Linda Maepa, chief compliance officer and vice president of business and new markets development for Electron Vault, a storage system company. She is a scientist and former consultant in business and information technology and focuses on many social issues related to cleantech.
- Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco. He has led San Francisco’s effort on many key cleantech initiatives, including early discussions with Better Place to agree on standardized electric car-charging stations, partnering with Cisco on reducing emissions and the first commercial wave-power project.
- Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. Michael is committed to maximizing energy efficiency and demand response opportunities and ensuring that California’s environment is protected. He is a strong supporter of renewable energy and renewable procurement requirements for utilities, and is a leader in implementing California’s solar and greenhouse gas initiatives. He also serves as chair of the California Emerging Technology Fund.
- Dan Reichert, director of Energy Initiatives at Google.org. He has strong environmental credentials and extensive experience in nuclear power, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Prior to working at Google, he was co-founder of New Energy Capital Corp., a private equity fund specializing in clean energy.
- Art Rosenfeld, creator of Energy Star and many other important energy programs as a long-serving member of the California Energy Commission. As a result of his efforts, California’s per capita energy consumption has not increased since 1973, an achievement referred to as the Rosenfeld Effect. Art has worked throughout his distinguished career to adopt and accelerate clean technologies.
- Cathy Zoi, founding CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection, which was established and chaired by former Vice President Al Gore. She is now the undersecretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. Cathy’s focus is to help foster early stage cleantech companies.
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