Cleantech People News: If You Can’t Hire Expertise, Borrow It

A host of cleantech companies made moves recently to add needed skills by hiring new employees or adding board members. Here are the highlights.

Kleiner Perkins-backed Choose Energy Appoints New CEO – Nov 7

New CEO Kerry Cooper, a retail industry veteran, will lead the expansion of Choose Energy, which allows consumers to compare retail electricity plans, into all 19 deregulated electricity states and 22 natural gas states in 2014, and help advance its platform to become the most visited and trusted online energy marketplace, according the release.  Choose Energy founder, Jerry Dyess will continue on with the company as its chief commercial officer.

Choose Energy also raised $7.5 million in Series B funding from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, BlueScape Resources, NGENPartners, Stephens Capital Partners and Michael Polsky. (see our profile of its acquisition of competitor Power2Switch last month)

Climate Change Capital Hires New Policy Expert – Nov 6

Climate Change Capital, a London-based asset manager focusing on sustainability and clean energy investing and advisory, hired Martin Schoenberg to be its new head of policy. Schoenberg will lead policy research for the company’s investment and think tank divisions, according to a statement. He formerly worked for an alphabet soup of different German and European government environmental boards and commissions.

How to Make Driving as Fun as Operating a Toaster – Oct 17

SmartDrive Systems, one of the companies trying to sap all the fun from driving by turning our cars into boring self-controlled robots, hired Marty Fletcher to be its new “strategic program manager,” an unintelligible job title that seems to have something to do with Fletcher’s 40-plus years of experience in engineering better fuel efficiency. The company received $47M in venture capital funding in June 2012 from Oak Investment Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and Stanford University.

Growth in the Electrical Outlet Efficiency Biz – Oct 15

Sensing opportunities to grow, Enmetric Systems created a new advisory board focused largely on preparing the company for expansion, according to a press release. The company manufactures systems to manage loads at electrical outlets. The seven-member board includes venture capitalist Tim Hutton, Cypress Semiconductor’s VP of finance Brad W. Buss and Tomakin Archambault, CEO of the solar investment firm GSSG Solar.  (see our coverage of their latest venture funding last month)

Are Cleantech Group’s 100 Stars Rising? Or Cresting? – Oct 9

VantagePoint Capital Partners is the venture investor of the year in cleantech, and GM Ventures is the best corporate cleantech investor of the year, according to a new ranking by the Cleantech Group. While Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has the most investments in the biggest total number of cleantech companies, VantagePoint won the award because the California-based company invests a higher proportion of its capital in cleantech companies, according to the report. The same happened on the corporate side, where GE has placed a higher total number of cleantech bets, but GM Ventures invests a higher ratio of its capital in green companies. While a nice honor for all involved, some members of a recent VC conference panel discussing the list wondered aloud whether inclusion in the Cleantech Group’s Global Cleantech 100 actually signals that a company is at the top of its “hype cycle”, as past members of the list have seemed to sputter, and investors need to look elsewhere to make venture-type returns.

Dang Whippersnappers and their Infernal Machines – Oct 7

Clean Energy Trust, a nonprofit group that tries to advance clean energy companies in the Midwest, named Patrick Whitty as its new program director and Emily Achler as spokesperson. Whitty, at the ripe age of 27, once worked for the White House communications office. He moved from ASKG Public Strategies, where he advised clients including Google and Exelon on energy markets. Achler, also 27, was hired away from Redbox, where she served as an online content and social media strategist.

Longtime Investment Firm Hires New Scout – Oct 3

The private equity investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice hired Lewis Hay III as an operating advisor. Hay, executive chairman of NextEra Energy, will help the company find and evaluate new investments. He’ll start in January 2014.

New CEO for Bad Gas – Oct 2

Ener-Core, Inc., a manufacturer of power generators built to burn low-quality gas that otherwise might be vented or flared as waste, hired Alain Castro as its new CEO. Castro previously focused on financing, building and optimizing power plants at companies including Akuo Energy, where he was president of North and South American divisions.

New Advisor for Remote Power Company – Oct 1

Solis Energy, which specializes in backup battery power and remote solar installations, added Roy Haley to its board. Haley, formerly CEO of the electronics holding company WESCO International, will advise Solis on its operations, according to a press release.

Turbine Tower Company Seeks to Rejoin NASDAQ – Oct 1

CleanTech Innovations, which manufactures specialty metal products used in wind turbine towers, steel factories and electricity transmission grids, announced that it is binging former banking industry regulator Terry K. McEwen to its board of directors. McEwen also will chair the company’s audit committee. He served as director of banking for the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, responsible for regulating the state’s $170-billion financial services industry. In its statement, the company says it hopes McEwen will help CleanTech Innovations recover from the decision by the NASDAQ stock exchange to delist the company.

Canada’s Top 16 Announced – Sept 19

Wal van Lierop, co-founder and CEO of Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, was named one of Canada’s top 16 contributors to green business and sustainable development by Delta Management. Chrysalix has invested in companies including Brammo electric motorcycles, waste-to-crude recycler Agilyx, and fusion power company General Fusion. In addition to helping Canada’s large oil companies integrate sustainability programs, “(h)e has also helped Chrysalix become one of the top performing cleantech funds, Delta’s “chief talent officer” Gavin Pitchford said in a release.



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