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Al Gore says a ‘game changer’ for green tech has arrived

September 22, 2022, 1:22 PM UTC

More than 1,500 people have died from the devastating floods in Pakistan that, at one point, had about one-third of the country underwater. Megadroughts in the West U.S. are threatening Lake Powell. Wildfires have been burning through Spain and Portugal. Heat waves have dried up part of China’s Yangtze River.

It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the disasters being caused by global warming. “Business leaders of all ages are responding—and many of them are saying we think we can make a difference with our business models and with our business plans,” former vice president Al Gore, who has spent decades warning about what rising temperatures will do to the planet, told me peppily over a Zoom call recently.

Gore has a front seat to how businesses are reacting as an investor. About 18 years ago, he launched Generation Investment Management, a sustainable investment company that invests across the public and private markets and now oversees about $35 billion in assets. On the private side, the firm’s growth equity arm raised a $1.7 billion fund earlier this year and now has about 18 investors on its growth equity team, which is led by Lila Preston. 

“We don’t see a drying up of startups or even funding for these companies,” Preston says of companies geared at tackling problems in climate, health, or financial inclusion—startups she describes as sitting under the umbrella of “sustainable.”

The firm, which publishes annual research on sustainability, has pegged the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act as major inflection points in its most recent report, released this week, which lays out where the firm sees opportunity in the power, transportation, land and food, and other markets.

In Europe, which is highly dependent on Russia for oil and gas, that dependence has become a “national security concern,” Gore says, in addition to the environmental and business concerns it was already posing. And Gore says the new legislation in the U.S. is a “threshold crossed” as it is the “largest investment in the sustainability transition that we have ever seen on the part of any country.” He is already seeing companies Generation backs making changes in order to qualify for the tax credits they can receive by transitioning to clean energy.

“I think it’s going to be a real game changer,” Gore says.

Preston anticipates that Generation will invest in between 15 to 18 companies from the new growth fund. Generation has already backed Gloat, an A.I.-powered career development marketplace that helps managers make data-informed hiring decisions. The firm has closed another investment focused on planetary health, but Preston says they aren’t ready to share what it is.

Preston acknowledged that both the public and private markets are in a period of volatility, but said that “company fundamentals remain strong,” even if companies have to “hunker down and think about their cost structures.”

“These are not trends. They are movements,” Preston says. “We are absolutely shifting massive swaths of our economy for a lower footprint and a more sustainable model—and that just has a lot of economic opportunity.”

Equities go down. Interest rates go up… Yesterday the Federal Reserve approved another 75 basis-point rate hike, lifting the bank’s lending rate to target 3%-3.25%. Rising interest rates mean borrowing capital is more expensive for private companies. It also means that LPs might turn their attention to other asset classes. I’ve written about that here.

Kittyhawk to close… The autonomous electric aircraft startup backed by Google cofounder Larry Page is winding down, according to a LinkedIn post from the startup yesterday—showcasing how the current market conditions may prove to be difficult for companies in high-cash-burn industries. Boeing says it doesn’t expect Kittyhawk’s closure to interrupt operations for Wisk, a joint venture between Kittyhawk and Boeing to develop an autonomous air taxi. 

See you tomorrow,

Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
Email: jessica.mathews@fortune.com
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Correction: A previous version of this newsletter incorrectly indicated that KittyHawk Ventures is affiliated with Kittyhawk.

Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.

VENTURE DEALS

- Pie Insurance, a Washington, D.C.-based workers' compensation insurance provider to small businesses, raised $315 million in Series D funding. Centerbridge Partners and Allianz X co-led the round and were joined by investors including White Mountains Insurance Group, Gallatin Point Capital, Greycroft, Acrew Capital, and others. 

- Innovafeed, a Paris-based insect producer for animal and plant nutrition, raised $212 million in Series D funding. Qatar Investment Authority led the round and was joined by investors including Creadev and Temasek.

- OpenStore, a Miami-based startup that acquires Shopify businesses and gives entrepreneurs liquidity, raised $32 million in funding. Lux Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Atomic, Founders Fund, General Catalyst, and Khosla Ventures

- Monos, a Vancouver-based travel and sustainability lifestyle brand, raised $30 million in Series B funding. venn growth partners led the round and was joined by investors including Strand Equity and Michele Romanow

- Gigs, a Berlin-based wireless subscription provider for phones and wearables, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Gradient Ventures, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, YC Continuity fund, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu, Instacart CEO Fidji Simo, and other angels invested in the round.

- Hyperlane, a secure infrastructure platform developer for interchain applications, raised $18.5 million in seed funding. Variant led the round and was joined by investors including Galaxy Ventures, Coinfund, Circle, Figment, Blockdaemon, Kraken, and NFX.

- Noble, a Tel Aviv-based credit-based products and services platform developer, raised $18 million in Series A funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Cross River Digital Ventures, Y-Combinator, Flexport Fund, TLV Partners, Operator Partners, Verissimo Ventures, Interplay Ventures, Plug and Play, and the George Kaiser Family Foundation

- Codacy, a Lisbon-based code shipping platform for software development teams, raised $15 million in Series B funding. Bright Pixel Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Armilar Venture Partners, Faber Ventures, Join Capital, Caixa Capital, EQT Ventures, and Iberis Capital. 

- Sylvatex, an Alameda, Calif.-based clean battery production solutions company, raised $8.4 million in Series A funding. Catalus Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Amplify Capital, How Women Invest, and others. 

- Lyfegen, a Basel, Switzerland and Newark, N.J.-based value-based health care software analytics company, raised $8 million in Series A funding. aMoon led the round and was joined by investors including APEX Ventures and others.

- Civ Robotics, a San Francisco-based autonomous surveying solution for civil engineering and infrastructure projects, raised $5 million in seed funding. ff Venture Capital and Alley Robotics Ventures co-led the round and were joined by Trimble Ventures.

- TULU, a New York-based appliances, groceries, and entertainment devices provider to in-building tenants, raised $5 million in additional Series A funding from Regeneration.VC.  

- Neem, a Karachi, Pakistan-based embedded finance platform, raised $2.5 million in seed funding. SparkLabs Fintech led the round and was joined by investors including Arif Habib, Cordoba Logistics and Ventures, Taarah Ventures, My Asia VC, Concept Vines, and Building Capital.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Vector Capital invested $100 million in Malwarebytes, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based cyber-protection company. Vector Capital will hold a minority stake in the company. 

- Admiral Pioneer acquired a minority stake in Wagonex, a Cardiff, U.K.-based mobility subscription platform provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.

- H.I.G. acquired Northern Biogas, a Morgantown, W.V.-based natural gas company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

FUNDS + FUNDS OF FUNDS

- Lerer Hippeau, a New York-based venture capital firm, raised $230 million across two funds. LH Seed VIII will focus on pre-seed and seed-stage companies, and LH Select IV will focus on companies from Series A to C. 

- SentinelOne, a Mountain View, Calif.-based autonomous cybersecurity platform company, allocated $100 million for a fund focused on security and data companies.

PEOPLE

- Giant Ventures, a London-based venture capital firm, hired Hayden Wood as a venture partner. Formerly, he was with Bulb.

- ICG, a London-based alternative asset manager, hired David Lomer as head of UK, Nordics, and Benelux. Formerly, he was with J.P. Morgan

- Manna Tree, a Vail, Colo.-based investment firm, hired Steve Young as managing director. Formerly, he was with Bellisio Foods.

- Monroe Capital, a Chicago-based asset management firm, hired Brian Dutzar and Brian Lee as directors and Mark Friedrich as managing director. Formerly, Dutzar was with Perella Weinberg Partners/Agility, Lee was with Ashmore Group, and Friedrich was with Western Asset Management Company. 

- Norwest Venture Partners, a Palo Alto-based private equity firm, hired Zack Scott as general partner for the healthcare practice. Formerly, he was with Revelation Partners

- Vision Ridge Partners, a Boulder, Colo. and New York-based asset investment firm, hired Christina Scalzo as principal. Formerly, she was with Vistra Corporation.

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