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Expert Voices: Convective Capital's Bill Clerico

Photo illustration of Bill Clerico with forest and wildfire imagery.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: courtesy of Bill Clerico

Today we're speaking with Bill Clerico, the founder of newly formed venture firm Convective Capital.

Why he matters: Clerico previously founded WePay, a fintech startup that he ultimately sold to JPMorgan in a deal valued around $400 million in 2017. With Convective Capital's initial $35 million fund, he's planning to write checks around $1.5 million on average to technology companies combating, predicting and preventing wildfires.

The below has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What in your view has been the big story in clean energy/climate tech this week?

  • The emergence of specialty venture capital firms in climate and the value that they can create for founders and investors. Firms like Convective, as well as other specialists like Burnt Island Ventures, represent a growing movement of venture firms with narrow but deep focus areas.

What would you add to the narrative?

  • We are just at the beginning of this "unbundling" of venture capital. As generalist VC firms raise ever-larger multibillion-dollar funds and build ever-larger teams and platforms, the need and opportunity for artisan venture capital has never been bigger. These specialty firms are in huge demand from both investors who want exposure to the theses they are pursuing and founders who value their specialty networks and expertise.

By contrast, what is not receiving the attention you feel it deserves?

  • It's easy to overlook the commercial opportunity in climate investing. Some investors still carry scar tissue from "Cleantech 1.0" or shrug off climate as the realm of policy. The historic investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework and the Inflation Reduction Act combined with historic levels of net-zero emission commitments from companies and exciting evolutions in technology mean the stage is set for an exciting decade of innovation. With that comes a historic opportunity for private capital to help build the future.

In three-ish words, what change would you make to clean energy/climate-tech investing?

  • More thesis-driven specialists!
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