This week, Union Square Ventures, which describes itself as a “thesis-driven venture capital firm,” announced a new $162 million Climate Fund. The thesis for this fund is pretty simple. They want to invest in companies that either provide mitigation for or adaption to the climate crisis. The thinking behind this approach is as follows. They want to invest in companies that directly attack the causes of climate change (mitigation), but they are also recognizing that the climate crisis is not some distant thing. It’s already here, which is why it’s important to also focus on companies that are dealing with the consequences of it (adaptation).
One of their first investments is in a company called Leap. What Leap does is provide the connective (software) tissue between local energy devices/applications and the broader energy markets. For example, let’s say you have a Leap-enabled smart thermostat. If the grid is in need of power, it might automatically reduce your local energy consumption so as to help with load balancing on the broader network. In exchange for this, you would earn money for your contributions. In effect, Leap acts as a kind of virtual power plant.
Why does this matter? Well, it matters because two important things seem to be happening with energy production: (1) It’s moving toward renewables and (2) production and storage are both decentralizing. Assuming this trend continues, there will be an increasing need for software to help manage energy consumption, production, load balancing, the broader energy markets, and so on. That’s where companies like Leap come in. It’s also why many are arguing that Tesla is so valuable. More than an EV company, it is creating a new decentralized renewable energy network through its car batteries, powerwalls, and solar panels.
That does sound valuable.