Dec 11, 2019 - Energy & Environment

$250 million venture capital firm Piva targets the energy industry

A man seen holding the petrol nozzle at a Petronas oil

Photo: Faris Hadziq/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

A recently formed venture capital firm backed by Malaysian oil-and-gas giant Petronas is going into launch mode.

Driving the news: The San Francisco-based Piva today announced a $250 million fund to invest in "breakthrough technologies needed to usher in a new era of energy and industry."

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of how some of the world's largest oil companies are putting more resources into startups.

  • The industry's VC cash is going to companies with tech that aids development of traditional fossil sources, but also areas like storage, efficiency and renewables.

How it works: Petronas is Piva's sole limited partner. But Piva says it will operate independently from the company, which also has a separate corporate VC fund.

  • They argue this structure provides the agility and speed to make decisions on their own, but keeps the ability to leverage the mothership's resources and expertise.
  • Piva plans to invest in early to growth-stage companies in areas like AI and robotics, electric and digital mobility, and advanced chemical and materials technology.

Piva CEO Ricardo Angel, in an interview, said they'll focus on emerging energy sources but also technology that makes developing fossil fuels more efficient and "greener and safer."

Background: Angel was previously the managing director at GE Ventures and before that a principal at Chevron Technology Ventures.

  • Others execs include partner Adzmel Adznan, who was a top official at Petronas' separate corporate VC arm; and Bennett Cohen, who's worked for Shell's venture arm and consulted for the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute.

What's next: Angel says Piva could unveil its first deal within days. Overall, the firm plans to invest in 15–20 companies over the life of the fund.

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