Return to search

Clean Tech Investors Either Immune to Recession or Just Really, Really Optimistic, Suggests New Report

Greentech Media, an online media company and research company, released its first-quarter findings last night. I’ve no idea if they’ll jibe with other first quarter numbers beginning to trickle out of the NVCA and elsewhere, but according to the Cambridge-based firm, investment in so-called green technologies hit $836 million in the first quarter, spread across 59 deals.

Those figures are down considerably from last year, when Greentech estimates that VCs put a stunning $7.6 billion to work across 350 companies. Yet they’re still on a par with the amounts invested in 2007, when VCs sunk a healthy $3.5 billion into 222 companies.

The pdf with more data is here. So is a comment from Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr, who’s quoted as saying, “Greentech VC investing declined year-over-year. [That’s] not surprising given the economy. Still, greentech could be the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century. This level of green VC investment is not enough.”

If the remark seems somewhat familiar, it’s because calling clean tech “the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century” is apparently the easiest way that Doerr can adequately convey his genuine enthusiasm for the sector. Here’s what I mean:

May 2006, at the Greentech Innovation Network Conference in San Francisco

“Innovations in green tech may be the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century.”

May 2007, in Forbes

“Replacing the inefficient capital equipment that powers the world will likely be the single largest economic opportunity of the 21st century.”

May 2007, to Portfolio magazine

“[Clean tech] is probably the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century.”

March 2008, to the Wall Street Journal

Clean energy represents “the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century.”

January 2009, to members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

“It is the mother of all markets – perhaps the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century.”

By the way, Doerr has also called clean tech the “biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century” at the TED conference in Monterey; at a “Top 10 Trends” event, hosted annually by the Churchill Club; at the Web 2.0 conference; and to BusinessWeek, USA TodayFortune, among others.