Last Friday I wrote about how Highland Capital Partners plans to begin investing in cleantech and energy deals. Actually, my post was based on a post by Scott Kirsner, which was based on an NPR interview of Highland partner Paul Maeder, but all of that is really beside the point.
What I’ve been pondering in the ensuing days is about the new class of cleantech investor, and if there are enough experienced bodies to satisfy the VC market’s appetite. Highland is in the market for cleantech talent (according to a local headhunter), but its initial foray is being led by Maeder, who has made his venture bones on software transactions. I’m not saying Maeder can’t make the transition — perhaps he’s using Bob Metcalfe as inspiration — but there should be concern that the cart is moving a bit in front of the horse.
If this lament sounds familiar, that’s because I expressed it late last year when buyout firms were raising more distressed debt funds than there were experienced managers to run them. Still too early to know if I was right…
Worth noting that the counter-argument is fairly persuasive. It posits that cleantech will be to the next decade what the Internet was to the 1990s and what software was to the 1980s: An unbridled wave of innovation that will be strong enough to carry both experienced and inexperienced investors to success. What think you?