6 Quick Questions: Micah Myers

Flying an F/A-18 Hornet combat jet isn’t the typical preparation for venture capital. But a career as a Top Gun fighter pilot is exactly what Micah Myers brings to his role as an investment associate at Claremont Creek Ventures.

Myers, 38, joined the Oakland, Calif.-based firm in 2008 and focuses on investments in energy and resource technologies. Before becoming a VC, he served 12 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including nine as a fighter pilot, and graduated from the Navy’s Top Gun Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program. He flew combat missions in Afghanistan and is now a reservist training monthly at the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar.

Senior Editor Mark Boslet caught up with Myers and asked him six quick questions.

Q: Can you describe the excitement of flying an F/A-18 Hornet?A: It’s an incredible, unconstrained feeling. Imagine a 1,000-mile-an-hour roller coaster that doesn’t have any rails. … Imagine flying a few hundred feet above the earth’s surface and in less than a minute you can be over eight miles in the sky.

Q: What did the Marine Corps teach you about leadership and entrepreneurs?A: The one common trait I see in leaders who impress me is they genuinely care about the people over which they are responsible. Another is influence. I look for influence in a founder. Does the founder have the influence to call people to action, to convince the company to trust him or her? Has he or she influenced seed investors and advisors to offer their time?

Q: What is your role as an investment associate?A: At some firms, an associate’s role is dialing for deal flow. It is not like that here. In fact, our last deal I sourced and gave to the life science team. The life science team made the investment. I help with due diligence, and I have led due diligence on some investments. It’s a little bit of everything. I haven’t taken a board seat on any of our companies, but hopefully soon.

Q: You worked at Passport Capital before joining Claremont. Are there lessons from working at a hedge fund that apply to venture capital?A: Passport Capital is a macro-influenced fund, and when you’re dealing with a commodity, like energy, you absolutely have to boil it down to fundamental economics.

Q: What do you mean?A: I sometimes ask entrepreneurs coming in to pitch an energy efficiency product what their levelized cost of energy is. And often times they look at me and do not know what I mean. It is a fairly good indicator of how much homework they have actually done in the energy industry.

Q: Are there new clean technologies you are tracking?A: Energy storage we think is a very exciting opportunity. Imagine a solar farm with a co-located energy [storage] facility. If you can economically install energy storage—whether it is a managed battery system, a flywheel, compressed air or pumped hydro—it will make a big difference.