After the clean tech boom went bust, the industry seemed to disappear from the tech world’s focus as quickly as the billions of dollars that had been invested.
But one sector — energy efficiency — has made a quick comeback with a little help from the Internet of Things. And the same investors that got burned before are rushing back to try their hand in a new version of the old game.
Veteran Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers took a particularly hard hit in the clean tech crash, when portfolio companies such as Fisker Automotive and MiaSolé went belly up and lost the firm hundreds of millions of dollars. But partner Trae Vassallo has not been deterred — instead, she’s leading a second pass at energy tech that has already spawned winners such as Nest, acquired by Google for $3.2 billion, and Opower, which went public in April of last year.
“It’s really been made possible only recently just by the incredible proliferation of mobile devices, our ability to do mesh networking intelligently, and to have a really inexpensive microchip that can do the processing,” says Vassallo, referring to her portfolio company Enlighted.