The electric car wars continue as Fisker Automotive gets a $65 million cash injection from Kleiner Perkins, hedge fund Palo Alto Investors and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Earth2Tech has the story and a reminder about the company’s ongoing legal battle.
The interesting thing here, outside the sexy looking car, is the source of the financing: an early stage venture firm (now growth investor when it comes to “greentech”), a hedge fund and the state-backed investment fund of an petrochemical-rich middle-eastern nation. Which of these investors doesn’t belong?
A year ago, I would have said “all of them,” but now I’m not so sure. Cleantech VCs are finding strange bedfellows to take their technology-proven companies into the production-stages of development. Many of the early stage investments that got financing early in the cleantech boom now need a different type of cash to stay affloat: project financing.
Why Qatar as an investor? Deep wells of cash ready to back energy projects. The QIA has committed $65 billion to investments in energy related projects and is keen to diversify away from a natural-resource dependant economy, according to its website.
The real question though is “how?” How do you find a QIA to invest in your cleantech startup that needs to build a production plant or refinery to stay in business? Where do you look and what do you pitch it?
The “how” of connecting to project financiers remains very much an issue for cleantech VCs. Those who can do so successfully will find themselves handsomely rewarded.