Former U.S. vice president, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Academy Award recipient Al Gore will be adding another life experience to his curriculum vitae.
On Monday, Gore joined venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a partner, focusing on investments to solve climate change.
Gore's new role is part of a partnership agreement between the Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture firm and the London-based investment-management firm Generation Investment Management, which Gore co-founded.
Although details on the partnership are limited, the two firms said they will provide funding and consulting to public and private companies working in sectors such as renewable energy, building efficiency, cleaner fossil energy and carbon markets.
And because Kleiner Perkins got Gore, Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr will join Generation's advisory board.
Doerr is a venture-capital superstar of sorts and made his claim directing funding to companies such as Sun Microsystems, Amazon.com and Google.
Kleiner Perkins has invested more than $200 million into the greentech space since 1999.
Although Gore is known for his green political passions, he also is deep with the business community. He is a senior adviser to Google and an Apple board member.
But as a VC, Gore will continue his philanthropic drive by donating his Kleiner Perkins salary to the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Alliance for Climate Protection, an advocacy group he co-founded.
Gore's New Role
But what type of VC will Gore be?
Most likely not a full-time one, said Mark Donohue, managing partner for Expansion Capital Partners.
"Given his other life commitments, I imagine he'll become a special limited partner or an equivalent type of role," he said.
Regardless, Gore comes loaded with a killer Rolodex and a deep understanding about how policy and government works. Such a combo is very attractive, said Sean Brownlee, a greentech consultant and former director of venture capital firm 3i.
That's because policy and government financial support are key drivers in getting clean technology to the masses (see Renewable Tax Credit and Portfolio Standard Could Get Cut From Energy Bill, Schwarzenegger Signs New Crop of Green Bills for California, and Range Fuels Signs $76 Million Technology Investment Agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy). Gore's history shows he has a strong grasp of this realm.
For example, as companies chase nondilutive equity, "he would be in a great position to know which arm of the government has subsidies available and research and development grants," Brownlee said.
This in not the first time Kleiner Perkins has gone after a famed politico. The firm wooed and secured former Secretary of State Colin Powell as a strategic limited partner.
Gore's presence has proved positive for greentech companies in the past. Spanish renewable-energy developer Abengoa saw its shares jump about 9 percent earlier this month on speculation that Gore's investment fund had bought a stake in the company.
With such power behind his name, should other venture-capital firms be concerned about Gore's ability to snag the most innovative companies for Kleiner Perkins' portfolio?
At least some VCs aren't worried. "How much bandwidth do you think Al Gore is going to have to role up his sleeves and work to make each company a success?" said Rob Day, a principal with @Ventures and the writer of Greentech Media's Cleantech Investing blog.
Day said there are hundreds of startups forming every month. "And I don't think any one investor that is going to be part-time is going to monopolize any deal flow," he said.
If anything, Day said he sees the move by Gore bringing more visibility to the space.