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Expert voices: Brook Porter watching data center demand

Photo illustration of Brook Porter surrounded by abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of Pivot Bio

Venture capitalist Brook Porter, partner with G2 Venture Partners, sees data center operators building islanded microgrids as a bellwether for what's going to happen across the U.S.

Why it matters: Porter has been investing in climate tech since the early days, helping manage the Green Growth Fund for Kleiner Perkins.

  • G2 Venture Partners (which stands for Green Growth) was formed in 2017 with anchor funding from Kleiner partner John Doerr and focuses on providing the first growth capital for climate companies.
  • The firm has a little under $1 billion in assets under management and has a couple more investments to make out of its $500 million second fund.
  • Porter says the firm is launching its third fund later this year, which will likely be bigger.

This interview was lightly edited for clarity.

What in your view was the big news in climate-tech investing this month?

  • "Power for data centers. They're saying they'll take whatever power they can get at whatever pricing they can get.
  • This is a first for the energy industry. We've never had the demand, particularly for low carbon energy, unconstrained by price."

What would you add to the narrative?

  • "All of this demand is for building power for training foundational models. Arguably, the energy demand for the actual inference could be even higher than the training.
  • The next frontier I think, will be on the inference side. Maybe that happens closer to the edge on devices, where you need really efficient compute, or maybe you need batteries in different ways."

By contrast, what's going undernoticed?

  • "Autonomy, AVs, I think are generally in the trough of disillusionment.
  • We might be at the moment of the dawn of the age of AV working, where most people think it's kind of dead."

One tip for climate-tech investors or founders:

  • "We are relentlessly focused on unit economics.
  • Ultimately, if you have healthy economics, that'll enable you to scale quickly, and it will determine how much your company is worth."

Three fun things:

💼 First job:

  • "My first paid job in college, was an internship at a mining company at a copper mine.
  • It was in Casa Grande, Arizona, and basically our job was to break rocks."

👑 Proudest investment:

  • "Turo. It was an idea that seemed improbable, the idea of sharing cars and competing with rental car companies."

🤦🏻‍♂️ Facepalm investment or investment you wish you made:

  • "Probably the one I regret not doing is Rivian.
  • I think it's a great brand. I have the product and there's a lot of value to just building a great product."

💡 In three-ish words, the change you would make to climate-tech investing:

  • "I think the three words that are critical to success in our sector is better, cheaper, greener.
  • You really have to kind of go in that order, make a better product that inspires people to want it, and saves money. And then green is essential, but it's not, it can't be the top priority."
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