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Specialist climate VCs reign supreme

May 19, 2022
Number of deals made by most active VC investors in U.S. climate tech companies
Data: PitchBook; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Venture firms investing solely in climate technology are driving the majority of deal activity in the industry.

Why it matters: There's been lots of chatter — and blame — about the increase in deal activity and higher valuations coming from generalist investors hoping to break into the red-hot climate technology sector.

Reality check: That's not the case, according to PitchBook data provided exclusively to Axios.

State of play: Historically, deal activity has been concentrated among the venture firms that have made a name for themselves by investing in climate and energy technology.

  • The surge of deal activity in 2021 and 2022 hasn't shifted that expectation much at all.
  • Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the top climate investor among its peers, was founded in 2015 and is backed by Bill Gates.
  • SOSV is much older — founded in 1995 — and has a much more stage-agnostic approach to investing in climate technology companies, but fell short of Breakthrough's more aggressive deal activity to date.

The intrigue: Several firms, including Alumni Ventures and Sand Hill Angels, focus on the earliest stages of investment.

  • Those firms' activity speaks to the rate of company creation in climate technology.
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