Climate-focused VC stays scorching as Buoyant Ventures targets $100M fund

Like a groundhog and its shadow, many venture capitalists see a shrinking economy and burrow away, resting their check-signing hand for better days.

But climate-focused VCs are on a tear lately, pumping well over a billion dollars per quarter into startups that strive to mitigate emissions as the Earth bakes.

Buoyant Ventures is one such firm building momentum for the sector. Based in Chicago, the investor told regulators this week via an SEC filing that it has locked down just over $50 million for a new fund. Buoyant declined to comment when emailed by TechCrunch, but the filing shows the firm has been raising cash for the fund since at least May 2021. So far, 75 (unnamed) limited partners have chipped in, and Buoyant is fishing for just shy of $50 million more. 

Led by Electronic Arts and Energize Ventures alum Amy Francetic and former Accenture executive Allison Myers, Buoyant’s first deal dates back to the summer of 2020. That’s when it backed Raptor Maps, which aims to help solar farms squeeze more juice from the sun by spotting issues — like panel damage and shading — with drones and sensors.

Buoyant said in 2021 that it’s focused on “solutions for the industries contributing the most to carbon emissions,” including power, transportation, agriculture and buildings. Since then, it has funded at least four other early-ish stage startups, including FloodFlash, StormSensor and others seeking to cash in on emissions mitigation or climate adaptation.

Several other noteworthy climate (and climate-adjacent) VC fundraises have crossed our desks in recent weeks, including Fifth Wall‘s $500 million fund, Climentum Capital ($157 million), Equal Ventures ($94.8 million) and Systemiq Capital ($70 million).

Will Volkswagen’s new CEO hamstring its EV push?

Volkswagen dropped a bombshell announcement late last week: Herbert Diess was out as CEO.

As a manager, Diess was controversial, with a style that chafed both executives and labor leaders alike. But as a strategist, he was on firmer ground, deftly steering Volkswagen out of the Dieselgate scandal and setting it on a path toward full electrification.

With Diess leaving at the end of August, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume will step into Volkswagen’s corner office. There are plenty of reasons to think that Blume will continue the company’s EV push. After all, he oversaw the development and rollout of the sports car maker’s first electric model, the Taycan, which is already outselling the flagship 911.

But Blume is also an advocate for e-fuels, which are fossil-fuel replacements made from hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Last year, he reportedly went so far as to personally lobby for them with the German finance minister, who subsequently pushed back against EU plans to phase out fossil fuel vehicles entirely. (The whole business, known as Porschegate in the German press, has roiled national politics.)

Under Diess, Volkswagen’s path toward an electric future appeared to be set. Now, under Blume, it seems less certain. His push for e-fuels could bring the company some much-needed stability. But it also risks becoming a strategically perilous distraction at a time of great turmoil in the automotive industry.

E-fuel problems