Gore joined the venture capital group Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Buyers in November 2007, whose key partner, John Doerr, has been pushing hard for biofuel subsidies. His firm GIM also became a KPCB affiliate. As vice president, Gore had cast a 1994 Senate tie-breaking vote in favor of ethanol mandates, but has subsequently admitted regrets. He stated four years later that, “One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had certain fondness of the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president”.
Over the five years since Al Gore joined KPCB to promote environmentally-correct “green tech” investments, the results have been pretty dismal. According to VentureSource, of the more than 60 companies that have received KPCB equity backing, only three have been acquired or merged into other companies. And since the time Gore joined KPCB, only two have managed to go public. Shareholders of one, Amyris, Inc. a biomass company, have lost 80% of their value since the firm’s 2010 IPO. The other, Enphase Energy which went public last March, was listed by the Wall Street Journal in December as the worst IPO of the year.
Amyris is a UC-Berkeley-spawned genetic engineering company originally funded by Bill Gates which raised $16 per share during its 2010 IPO. The company then got big news again when Fidelity bought 6.2 million shares in February 2012 at $5.78 per share. It’s now selling at about $3.20.