Early this year, we reported that DBL Investors was looking to raise $300 million for its third fund, according to an SEC filing. The SEC filing listed Ira Ehrenpreis as a partner in the firm. At the time, Ehrenpreis was still listed as head of the cleantech practice at Technology Partners. None of the principals were commenting at the time.
This morning DBL Partners announced the close of a $400 million impact fund focused on investments "that combine value and values." The fund looks to make "investments with positive social, environmental or regional economic impact without compromising financial returns."
The new fund combines partners from the energy practices of DBL Investors and Technology Partners.
Ehrenpreis of VC firm Technology Partners and Nancy Pfund of DBL Investors share a common investment edge: Elon Musk, the CEO of Technology Partners' investment Tesla and chairman of DBL's investment SolarCity. Both investors have maintained their board seats with those winning firms.
The DBL portfolio includes or has included PowerLight, PowerGenix, Ogin, OPX Biotechnologies, Siva Power, View, Primus Power, SolarCity, eMeter, NEXTracker, Tesla and BrightSource. DBL also lists Pandora Media, Revolution Foods, and SpaceX among its successes and claims its startups have created a cumulative total of more than 30,000 jobs.
The Technology Partners cleantech portfolio has Tesla and includes or has included Accelergy, Abound Solar, Alta Devices, Akros Silicon, G2X Energy, Imergy, Imperium Renewables, Kaiam, Ogin, PolyFuel, PowerGenix, Sensicore and Solexel as its investments.
“The size of this fund puts impact investing squarely in the mainstream, and the sustainability focus included in its mandate puts to rest any concerns that the time for clean energy investing has passed,” said Pfund, managing partner and founder of DBL Partners, in a release.
We spoke with Pfund this morning. She told us that the new fund has already invested in five startups (one still in stealth) since its first close in December 2014.
- Advanced Microgrid Solutions: AMS describes its offering as a hybrid-electric building project, which will provide grid support to utilities. Susan Kennedy, CEO and co-founder of AMS, said, “Equipping a building with the technology to store and manage its own electricity turns that building into a standalone storage unit,” adding, “Combine a dozen buildings into a fleet, and you have the utility equivalent of a peaker plant.”
- The RealReal: An online luxury consignment store that is part of the "circular economy" and is "growing like a weed," according to Pfund.
- The Muse: Pfund described this female-founded startup as "LinkedIn for millennials."
- Mapbox: A startup designing custom maps for third-party apps with a recent $52 million investment from DFJ Growth, Foundry Group, DBL Partners, Thrive Capital and the Pritzker Group.
Investment team members will continue to manage prior funds’ portfolios separately. DBL raised a $150 million fund in 2010.
Ehrenpreis, managing partner at DBL Partners, tells GTM, “The energy innovation cycle is just in its beginning. Although there are fewer investors who are investing in the sector compared to a few years ago, now is actually a great time to invest. The entrepreneurs are better, the valuations more sane, and the macro-indicators are becoming clearer that we need to re-invent our 21st century energy economy. Our new fund enables us to partner with entrepreneurs who not only want to build world-class companies, but also have a passion for changing the world in the process.”