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RoseRyan names Northern California’s top 25 movers & shakers in cleantech

(Newark, CA, February 3, 2011) — RoseRyan’s list of cleantech leaders in 2010 features 15 new faces, adds research stars and goes lighter on the politicos—a reflection of the fact that Bay Area cities have already rolled out the welcome mat for cleantech companies.

And why not? In 2010 the cleantech sector continued to outpace most other parts of the economy. Amyris, Codexis and Tesla went public. BrightSource won approval for the biggest solar installation in the world, the 392MW Ivanpah plant in Southern California. Big players like Chevron, Cisco and Google got more serious about their cleantech commitments. Large venture investments helped such companies as Better Place and Bridgelux grow. And while investments dropped in the last half of the year and many companies scrapped IPO plans, the defeat of Proposition 23 in November gave cleantech a year-end vote of confidence.

All that made for a more competitive list versus last year (when we debuted the list with 2009 picks), says Chris Vane, RoseRyan’s specialist in cleantech business development and creator of the Top 25 list. Chris is particularly enthusiastic about adding leaders from the likes of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University. “These unsung heroes provide the foundation for the basic R&D and major advances cleantech industries need,” he says. “Their institutions provide the human capital—the brains and the leaders—that support the cleantech community.”

About the list
Chris single-handedly compiled RoseRyan’s Top 25 People in Cleantech in Northern California based on his immersion in the cleantech community and constant tracking of rising stars (we think he secretly wants to work for TMZ). He’d be the first to tell you it was an unscientific process. He gathered candidates by asking everyone he knows in cleantech and quite a few he’d only just met, in meetings large and small and at a mind-boggling number of industry events. But the final selection was far from random.

Chris weighed several criteria when making the cut. The Top 25 are all based in Northern California and have made a significant impact in the region or nationally. They all had significant achievements in 2010. They are all advocates for clean technology and sustainability, raising their voices in public forums and speaking up about public policies. And their companies and institutions are doing innovative work to create the products, technologies and strategies that will combat climate change.

What do you think of his choices? Have some candidates of your own? Let us know by posting a comment to the “Top 25 in Cleantech” blog post. You can also go straight to the source and e-mail Chris.

RoseRyan’s Top 25 people in cleantech in Northern California

This is Chris Vane’s list of the top 25 cleantech influencers of 2010, in alphabetical order, followed by another 15 people to watch in 2011. Both lists include a diverse mix of entrepreneurs, lawyers, media representatives, scientists and policy leaders. We’ve noted those who were also on the 2009 list.

  • Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place. Shai thinks big and puts that into action, working with government leaders, auto manufacturers, energy companies and others to make his vision of zero-emission vehicles powered by electricity from renewable sources a reality around the globe. He was on Time magazine’s 2009 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, and the magazine named him a “Hero of the Environment” in 2008.
  • Gary Bloom, CEO and president of eMeter, a developer of smart meters. As the grid gets smarter, the need to coordinate meters, utilities and consumer portals grows greater. eMeter is in the thick of it, developing software that manages the tidal waves of data coming from smart meters and handles infrastructure integration for utility information systems. Gary’s background with software giants Oracle and Symantec has helped position eMeter as a leader in smart grid management, and his guidance has enabled the company to deftly partner with major players in the marketplace.
  • Conrad Burke, president and CEO of Innovalight. Conrad has guided innovative solar, semiconductor and optical technologies to market for more than 20 years. Innovalight helps solar companies with technologies and materials that allow cost-effective production of solar cells with higher conversion efficiencies. Conrad’s team of top engineers and chemists has built a portfolio of more than 60 patents. In October 2010, he received the 2010 Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award.
  • Ed Cazalet, CEO of The Cazalet Group. Ed is internationally recognized for his analysis and design of electricity markets; analysis of transmission, generation and load management investments; and design of smart-grid transaction services. He is a leader in smart grid policy and has promoted model legislation in California and at the federal level, advocating new electricity market designs using price-responsive demand and storage to support high penetration of renewable energy sources.
  • Amit Chatterjee, CEO and founder of Hara Software, a provider of environmental and energy management solutions. Amit is not only leading Hara to success, but he also is a thought leader on green economy innovation and energy independence. He was named one of the most influential people in business in Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list in 2010. He the author of The Post Carbon Economy (Sofico Books, 2009) and serves on the board of the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association.
  • Neal Dikeman, founding partner of Jane Capital Partners, a merchant and investment banking firm focused on energy and environmental technology. Neal is the chair of and is on the board of directors of the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative. He co-founded Carbonflow and SC Power Systems (now Zenergy Power). He blogs regularly, with insightful commentary on the state of the cleantech industry, and he is a frequent speaker and host for industry events. (2009 Top 25)
  • Gil Friend, president and CEO of Natural Logic, a consulting firm that helps companies and communities improve their environmental performance by using ecological models to reduce waste and energy use. Gil is a systems ecologist and business strategist with nearly 40 years 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 and the advisory boards of Clean Fish, WattBot and the Green World Campaign. (2009 Top 25)
  • Matt Golden, co-founder and president of Recurve (formerly Sustainable Spaces), which provides software applications for home performance contractors. Matt is also the policy chair of Efficiency First, a national nonprofit trade association that fights global warming and rising energy costs. He was recognized by the Building Performance Institute with the first Tony Woods Award for Excellence in Advancing the Home Performance Industry. He speaks extensively on building science and integrated green design, and serves on many boards, including the Department of Energy Home Performance Council and the Building Performance Institute. (2009 Top 25)
  • Laura Ipsen, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Connected Energy. She is in charge of shaping Cisco’s smart grid vision and strategy as well as building out the company’s product and services portfolio, and she’ll be a major influence on the technology, policy and standards shaping the smart grid. Laura is co-chair of the Cisco EcoBoard, which leads the company’s green strategy for using information technology to positively affect the environment and climate change.
  • Vinod Khosla, founder and CEO of Khosla Ventures, a venture advisor for emerging-growth cleantech companies. Vinod has invested in Amyris, LS9, Soladigm and many other cleantech companies. He is a charter member of TiE, a nonprofit global network of entrepreneurs and professionals founded in 1992. He is a leader in social entrepreneurship with a special emphasis on microfinance. (2009 Top 25)
  • Scott Lang, chairman, president and CEO of Silver Spring Networks. 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 builds aggressive relationships with utilities such as AEP, Florida Power & Light and PG&E to accelerate smart grid adoption. Word is that Silver Spring will file for an IPO this year. (2009 Top 25)
  • John Melo, CEO of Amyris. Amyris had a successful IPO in 2010 and is focused on applying its industrial synthetic-biology biofuel platform to petroleum-sourced products. John will be a key force in establishing the partnerships and capabilities needed to bring Amyris products to market this year. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the fuels industry and was president of U.S. fuels operations for British Petroleum prior to joining Amyris.
  • Elon Musk, chairman, product architect and CEO of Tesla Motors, one of the most advanced all-electric American car companies. Elon combines a clean transportation vision with business acumen. He led Tesla’s IPO in 2010 and is keeping the company focused on delivering its new sedan in 2012, building strategic relationships and keeping big competitors such as Nissan and GM at bay. He has been involved in key decisions since Tesla’s beginning, and won Index and Global Green awards as co-leader of the design of the Tesla Roadster. (2009 Top 25)
  • Paul Nahi, president and CEO of Enphase Energy. Paul has spent more than 20 years in entrepreneurial and multinational high-tech companies. This experience has served him well in positioning Enphase Energy as a leader in solar microinverters and energy management technology that improves the performance, intelligence, reliability and safety of solar systems. Enphase Energy has executed very well in offering a simple, compelling solution to complex energy problems.
  • Rex Northen, executive director of the Cleantech Open. Rex expanded the cleantech business plan competition to three national regions, added a global ideas competition, developed national training and ran the first global and national awards event. Under his guidance, the Cleantech Open has built an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business partners throughout the country. The 2010 event had a record number of submissions and will expand greatly this year. (2009 Top 25)
  • Mary Ann Piette, deputy of the Building Technologies Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Mary Ann is an energy geek we love. She develops and evaluates low-energy and demand response technologies for buildings. She specializes in commissioning, energy information systems, benchmarking and diagnostics. And she has written more than 100 papers on efficiency and demand response. In 2006, she received the Benner Award at the National Conference on Building Commissioning for contributions to making commissioning business as usual.
  • Sue Preston, general partner of the CalCEF (California Clean Energy Fund) Clean Energy Angel Fund, author of Angel Financing for Entrepreneurs (Jossey-Bass, 2007) and Angel-in-Residence at the University of Arizona. Since 2007, Sue has led the Angel Fund’s effort to produce a 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; the work included a yearlong program with the Advanced Research Projects Agency, the EPA and the California Public Utilities Commission. (2009 Top 25)
  • Alan Shaw, CEO and president of Codexis, which develops biocatalysis and enzyme products that enable highly efficient low-carbon manufacturing processes. Alan led the company in a successful IPO in 2010. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He also serves on the board of directors of CO2 Solution. In 2010, he received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the life sciences category in Northern California.
  • KR Sridhar, principal co-founder and CEO of Bloom Energy, which develops flexible fuel-cell systems. These systems enable customers to generate their own electricity for less than they pay their utility and reduce their carbon emissions by 50 to 100 percent. Fortune magazine said he is “one of the top five futurists that are inventing tomorrow today,” and we agree. Before founding Bloom Energy, KR led a NASA team in developing technologies to support life on Mars.
  • Kevin Surace, president and CEO of Serious Materials, a manufacturer of sustainable building materials. Among its achievements: leading the replacement of all the windows in the Empire State Building. Kevin has led the effort to develop new materials and processes for the building industry that require little energy to manufacture and dramatically improve energy efficiency. His work to drive efficiency in buildings has been endorsed by Barack Obama and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Bill Watkins, CEO of Bridgelux, the first new U.S.-based LED manufacturer in the past 20 years. Bill is perfect for leading Bridgelux in its mission to bring innovation to light by providing high-power, energy-efficient and cost-effective LED products. He has more than 30 years of experience in technology manufacturing. Before joining Bridgelux, Bill served as CEO of Seagate Technology, the world’s leading storage solutions company.
  • Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower. Tom is making sure SunPower can handle the ups and downs and rapidly changing business environment of the industry, and remain a leader in residential and commercial solar. Prior to joining SunPower in 2003, he was CEO of Silicon Light Machines, a subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation. He serves on the boards of Cree, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Silver Spring Networks.
  • Eric Wesoff, founder and senior analyst of Greentech Media. Eric is both reporter and industry participant, covering the cutting edge of cleantech news and serving as a speaker, panelist and volunteer at cleantech events. As a facilitator, he has spurred provocative discussions on everything from nuclear power to the smart grid. In his spare time, he writes Greentech Media’s annual Venture Power Report. (2009 Top 25)
  • John M. Woolard, president and CEO of BrightSource Energy. That the company won the contract to build the world’s largest solar plant—Southern California’s 392MW Ivanpah project—is a clear demonstration of John’s capabilities. He has more than two decades of experience in the energy technology sector. He co-founded Silicon Energy and has held positions at PG&E, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and VantagePoint Venture’s cleantech practice.
  • Clint Wilder, contributing editor at Clean Edge and co-author of The Clean Tech Revolution (HarperBusiness, 2007), widely regarded as a cleantech finance bible. He is active on multiple cleantech fronts. He is a blogger for the Huffington Post, a facilitator in the Energy and Climate Change track of the Clinton Global Initiative and a founding member of the Clean Economy Network. Clint’s writing and public persona are provocative, engaging and forward thinking. (2009 Top 25)

Top 15 people to watch in 2011

  • Dan Adler, president of CalCEF, director of the American Council on Renewable Energy, board advisor for the Cleantech Open and AB32 Working Committee member. CalCEF, acting as the connective tissue for policy, finance and technology interests, has created a series of investment vehicles and public interest institutions to accelerate the development of clean energy solutions.
  • Josh Becker, general partner and co-founder of New Cycle Capital, an early-stage venture firm focused on cleantech. Josh’s focus is on extending the green economy and having a positive impact on lower-income populations. He is co-founder of the Freedom Prize Foundation, which partnered with the Department of Energy to give out $5 million to encourage deployment of clean energy technologies. The San Jose Business Journal recently named Josh one of the top “40 under 40” businesspeople to watch in Silicon Valley.
  • John Doerr, partner of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. John has made major investments in cleantech companies including Amyris, Bloom Energy and MiaSolé. He is one of the most connected venture capitalists in the world and is always on the leading edge of cleantech investment.
  • Julio Friedmann, director of the Carbon Storage Initiative at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He leads initiatives and research into carbon capture, carbon storage and underground coal gasification. He was invited to join the MIT team that produced the interdisciplinary study “The Future of Coal.” Julio is the senior science coordinator for the Teapot Dome National Carbon Storage Test Center.
  • Bob Hinkle, founder and CEO of Metrus Energy. Bob pioneered the efficiency services agreement, which his company uses to finance energy efficiency projects. This solution is groundbreaking in the energy efficiency market and is comparable to solar’s power purchase agreements. As VP of energy efficiency at MMA Renewable Ventures, Bob directed the company’s financing business and negotiated investment opportunities with energy service companies.
  • Joe Laia, president and CEO of MiaSolé, which manufactures highly efficient and cost-effective thin-film solar panels. The company’s edge is in its manufacturing process, and Joe’s manufacturing expertise is long and deep, with positions at KLA-Tencor and Novellus, plus 11 years in technical and program leadership roles at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His stewardship will be critical this year as MiaSolé puts over $300M of venture capital to work toward its goal of enabling grid-parity solar energy by 2012.
  • Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of the GreenBiz Group and co-founder of industry research group Clean Edge. GreenBiz Group has grown steadily, publishing research and producing conferences in addition to producing the acclaimed website. As a writer, speaker and strategist on corporate environmental practices, Joel helps keep us on our toes when it comes to environmental responsibility and business success. He’s active on many fronts, including serving as a senior advisor to VantagePoint Venture Partners. (2009 Top 25)
  • Evan Mills, staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and research affiliate of the Energy & Resources Group at the University of California at Berkeley. Evan focuses on energy and environmental analysis. He was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared in the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007. He leads the Home Energy Saver project, a do-it-yourself, web-based energy audit that has had over 5 million users.
  • Lynn Orr, director of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University, which promotes energy-efficient technologies, systems and practices. He’s also a senior fellow at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment, where he led the Global Climate and Energy Project from 2002 to 2008. His research interests include the design of gas injection processes for enhanced oil recovery and CO2 storage in subsurface formations.
  • Marc Porat, operating partner at Pegasus Capital. In his mission to cut energy use in buildings, create green jobs and battle climate change, Marc has created a group of venture-backed green manufacturing companies to reinvent building materials and transform building design, construction and operations. Among other things, Marc has founded three cleantech companies: CalStar Products, Serious Materials and ZETA Communities. He is a board member for the Clean Economy Network Foundation.
  • Chuck Reed, mayor of San Jose. He has been a leader in the region for the last couple of years, setting ambitious environmental goals for the city and promoting cleantech innovation, jobs and sustainability. He holds an annual summit that lays the groundwork for the city’s Clean Tech Legislative Agenda, a set of regional, state and federal policy priorities designed to encourage innovation and growth in the sector. (2009 Top 25)
  • Dan Reicher, director of climate change and energy initiatives at He has strong environmental credentials and extensive experience in nuclear power, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Prior to joining he co-founded New Energy Capital, a private equity fund specializing in clean energy. Dan was in the running for the post of Secretary of Energy under President Barack Obama. (2010 Watch List)
  • Ron Stoltz, manager of energy innovation initiatives at Sandia National Laboratories and an active participant in Northern California’s cleantech industry. His work includes strategic planning and implementation of R&D and policy programs, networking and liaison efforts in energy and applied research, and policy and legislation. He is active with the Milken Institute’s energy initiatives and with the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s biofuel programs.
  • Steve Vassallo, general partner of Foundation Capital, a venture capital firm focused on cleantech investments. Steve serves on the board of directors for Akiban Technologies, Sentient Energy and SunRun, and he is actively involved with eMeter, EnerNOC and Serious Materials. He is a regular speaker at cleantech industry events. Before joining Foundation Capital, Steve helped launch Ning, an Internet social network service.
  • Jeremy Walker, founder and CEO of the Limey Group. Jeremy formed the Limey Group as a multiple startup company that will roll out a series of cleantech companies over the next few years. The first is Iota Computing, a smart grid company. Jeremy has been an interim CEO for many cleantech startups. One of his previous companies, KiteShip, was a winner in the inaugural Cleantech Open in 2006

About RoseRyan
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.

RoseRyan has a roster of thriving cleantech clients who work in areas that include energy efficiency, solar, smart grid and storage, including Amberix, ElectronVault, MiaSolé, Nanosolar, Silver Spring Networks and Transoptic.

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