Axios Pro: Climate Deals

April 06, 2022

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📉 Situational Awareness: Hindenburg Research, whose report sparked the federal fraud investigation of Nikola, published a new report this morning on Mullen Automotive, which made a splash at the LA Auto Show in November. Hindenburg declares it "Yet Another Fast Talking EV Hustle."

1 big thing: Voyager books $100M inaugural fund

Illustration of a hand depositing a one dollar bill into the Earth through a slot.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Voyager Ventures, an early-stage climate-focused VC fund, raised $100 million for its inaugural fund, its founders tell Megan.

Why it matters: More private money is flowing into climate, and limited partners and institutions are looking to get in at the earliest stages.

Driving the news: Voyager's $100 million Fund I comes with a heavy dose of Silicon Valley and corporate leadership in its LP base.

  • General partners at NEA, Insight Venture Partners and USV have all contributed to the fund.
  • Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt, Lyft CEO Logan Green, Shopify founders Fiona McKean and Tobi Lütke are investors, and Lowercarbon Capital's Chris Sacca is also an LP.

Between the lines: Voyager will invest in pre-seed, seed and Series A stage companies. It also has a follow-on fund that can participate in larger Series A or Series B deals.

  • For LPs, Voyager is essentially conducting due diligence on their behalf. Voyager founder Sierra Peterson tells Megan there isn't a formal partnership in place between her fund and her investors' funds.
  • "We have credibility with the GPs, and we can bring many of those GPs into the deals we find most compelling," Peterson says.

Details: Voyager is intentionally looking at early stage companies that have academic or lab-based backgrounds but haven't yet commercialized their fundamental technologies.

  • The strategy de-risks one of the biggest areas of concern for early-stage technical investors by validating the scientific portion of the company's value proposition.
  • With backgrounds in economics and technology, respectively, Peterson and her co-founder Sarah Sclarsic are relying on nearly three decades of experience to bring "unsexy" climate technologies to market, fast.
  • The fund has made five investments to date, including one in a stealth energy management software company in the Netherlands that Peterson says has helped reduce Europeans' energy consumption in recent weeks.

The bottom line: Look for deep-pocketed institutions and individuals to continue investing in early-stage specialist climate funds as the sector continues to gain mainstream momentum.

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