Quercus Trust

About: Quercus Trust is known to be very low-key and yet David Gelbaum’s Quercus Trust have amassed a large portfolio that very few companies (such as Kleiner Perkins and Khosla Ventures) have invested more in cleantech than Quercus Trust. Quercus Trust is so quiet and secretive that its website does not have any information except a link to email them. Even an article was written by Michael Kanellos from Greentech Media on how to contact the Quercus Trust.


Key Personnel:
David Gelbaum, Trustee (LA Times wrote an extensive article on him in 2004 but no mention of Quercus Trust)

Since the website doesn’t have any information, you’ll have to look elsewhere for information such as Cleantech Group. This Greentech Media article by Michael Kanellos on 7 Nov 2008 scoured through SEC filings and press releases and found at least 34 companies in the Quercus portfolio which was more extensive than previously reported:

Ascent Solar, Axion Power International, Beacon Power, BlueFire Ethanol, China Solar and Clean Energy (formerly Beijing Deli Solar), DayStar Technologies, Electro Energy, Energy Focus, Emcore, Environmental Power, Odyne, Open Energy, Solar Enertech, Spire, Thermoenergy, WorldWater and Solar, Sencera, Nanoptek, Promethean Power, Hydro Green Energy, Standard Renewable Energy, GridPoint, Colorep, LiveFuels, Firefly Energy, Cyrium Technologies, Ener1, Akeena Solar, Octillion, Lighting Science, Enviromission, Dynamotive, Nano Si Solar, Magenn Power.

Kanellos added 3 more in this article: 1366 Technologies, NetCrystal, Lightwave Power.

Kanellos added another 10 the list to become total 47 in this article: BioPetroClean, 3GSolar, Advanced Telemetry, ETV Motors, ReGen Power Systems, TBT Group, Technospin, Variable Wind Solutions, LaunchPoint Technologies, Graphene Energy.

According to Cleantech Group report, Quercus had 3 deals in 1Q09 in Advanced Hydro, Graphene Energy, Sencera.
I add other companies to the list from Cleantech Group 2008 report: Glacier Bay, Suniva.

News: Although the Cleantech Group 2008 report stated that Quercus Trust invested in Suniva but it seems that this Earth2Tech article updated its report that it was Quercus Investment, a firm that has no relation to or relationship with David Gelbaum’s Quercus Trust, that has invested in Suniva’s $50 million Series B funding round. A press release by Suniva states “Quercus Investment” but offers no description about the firm.

Yesterday, 27 July 2009, Suniva raised $75m in Series C funding round, which is led by Warburg Pincus. Also participating in the round were APEX Venture Partners and returning investors New Enterprise Associates (NEA), HIG Ventures and Advanced Equities. Reuters covered this news as well.

Reuters reported on 26 July 2009 that “U.S. solar company Applied Solar Inc filed for protection under Chapter 11 on July 24, court documents showed. The San Diego maker of building-integrated solar products declared assets of $17.6 million, and total debts of $29.1 million. In May, the company had said it would seek bankruptcy protection, as part of a loan agreement with its largest investor, The Quercus Trust. The solar company had borrowed $698,000 from Quercus, an investment firm that focuses on clean technology companies. Quercus is run by investor David Gelbaum.” I was looking for Applied Solar in the portfolio list above but couldn’t find it. Then I found that Open Energy Corporation had changed its name to Applied Solar, Inc in January 2009.