10 Khosla Biofuel Bets

Vinod Khosla, the 52-year venture capitalist and founder of Khosla Ventures and Sun Microsystems, is leading Silicon Valley’s biofuel gold rush. Controversial to some (corn ethanol critics) and put on a pedestal by others (venture investors that follow his lead), he’s made at least 10 biofuel bets in recent years. While biofuels are facing a backlash at the moment — and Khosla himself drives a Lexus Hybrid — Khosla has invested significant money into supporting the industry.

Company Funding Technology Founded CEO
Goshen, Calif.
$200M, Khosla Ventures, Western Milling, Virgin Fuels, Ron Burkle, The Yucaipa Companies Converts corn into ethanol to power cars and trucks. 2006 Mark L. Noetzel, President and CEO
Hawaii BioEnergy
Khosla Ventures, Finistere Ventures Researching the development of ethanol plants on Hawaiian islands. 2006 NA
Mascoma Corporation
Cambridge, Mass.
$39M, Khosla Ventures, Flagship Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Vantage Point Venture Partners, Atlas Venture, Pinnacle Ventures Producer of biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass using microorganisms and enzymes. 2006 Bruce A. Jamerson
Broomfield, Colo.
Undisclosed round from Khosla, plus a $75M grant from DOE. Is in “fundraising mode” with IPO dreams in 2008 Uses a thermochemical process to turn biomass into synthetic gas and then fuel 2006 CEO Mitch Mandich
Coskata Energy
Warrenville, Ill.
Pasadena, CA
Reported as $10M, Series B, Khosla Ventures, Virgin Fuels (specifically Virgin Green Fund) An enzyme process, developed at Caltech, that convert biomass to next-gen biofuels like butanol, which can be used in the existing petroleum supply chain. 2005 Patrick Gruber
San Carlos, Calif.
$20 million, Series B, Khosla Ventures, Flagship Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners Uses synthetic biology to develop biofuels from traditional feedstocks that contain more energy than current biofuels, require less energy to produce and can be distributed through the existing petroleum infrastructure. 2005 No current CEO
Los Angeles, Calif.
Over $415M from Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, Angeleno Group, Omninet Private Equity, Sage Capital Partners Leverages various kinds of biofuel manufacturing processes. 2004 CEO Larry Gross
Amyris Biotechnologies
Emeryville, Calif.
$20 million series A, working
on a $70 million series B, DAG Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins,
and TPG Ventures
Uses synthetic biology to create biofuels that can replace gas, diesel and jet fuel; its genetic processes are also used to deliver low cost anti-malarial drugs. 2003 CEO John Melo
Celunol, (now Verenium)
Cambridge, Mass.
Trades on the NASDAQ. Bought by Diversa for $150M+. Became Verenium this year. Reportedly raised more than $60M from Khosla Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures, Charles River, Rho Ventures Produces enzyme based cellulosic ethanol. 1994 CEO Verenium, Carlos Riva