Behind the Green Doerr

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has a bit of a public relations problem.

The NYT did some digging and figured out that the firm invested in an oil exploration company called Terralliance. (KPCB and some unnamed individuals invested $35.3 million in the Newport Beach, Calif.-based company last October, according to Thomson Financial.) Normally such an investment wouldn’t raise any eyebrows, but when you are a self-professed “greentech” investor like KPCB, then you have some ‘splainin’ to do. Heck, Valleywag reported that KPCB Partner John Doerr got teary-eyed at the recent TED conference during a talk about global warming. One source in the NYT story called the firm “hypocritical.”

The brouhaha reminded us of a tongue-in-cheek gossip item about Doerr that VCJ published back in September, which we are pasting in here:

Behind the Green Doerr
Ever since he invested in the Segway “human transporter” as an alternative to the automobile, John Doerr has given the impression that he’s anti-oil. He solidified that position in August when he stood alongside Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez in Sacramento in support of a bill that aims to cut the level of greenhouse gas emissions in California. The bill is opposed by big business, which claims it will drive up energy costs.

“I think the losers will be those who don’t change,” Doerr said.

And Doerr has put his money where his mouth is. In addition to backing the Segway, he was instrumental in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ decision to set aside $100 million, or one-sixth of its latest fund, for what it calls “greentech.” KP even the $100,000 KPCB Prize for Green Innovation.

Says KP’s website: “Our planet is facing a green crisis. Our enormous demand for energy is outpacing supply at an alarming rate. We are exhausting dwindling resources in ways that accelerate carbon emissions, global warming, and harmful climate change. And our addiction to oil is funding both sides of the war on terrorists, weakening democracy and our economy.”

Given all that green talk, we were more than a little surprised to read in Technology Daily PM magazine that Doerr and his wife Ann wrote a $1,000 check this year to Ted Stevens, the Republican senator from Alaska who has repeatedly tried to approve oil drilling in Alaska’s Artic National Wildlife Refuge. The only thing we can figure is that the donation was some sort of mistake. That would explain why the Doerrs also gave money to Maria Cantell, the freshman senator in Washington who has had very public run-ins with Stevens.