Venture Capital Firm Invests in Start-Ups With a Social Mission
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
When the co-founders of SolarCity, Lyndon and Peter Rive, along with their cousin Elon Musk, were raising money for their solar energy start-up in 2007, they called on just one outside investor. It wasn’t Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital or any of the other prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firms, but a $75 million fund managed under the umbrella of JPMorgan Chase.
The fund’s managing director, Nancy Pfund, isn’t a household name. Yet over the last decade, she has quietly built a reputation as the go-to venture capitalist for companies looking to make a social impact.
This strategy has gained momentum in recent years. Consumer companies like Toms shoes and Warby Parker eyewear have demonstrated that altruism can also be good for business. Ms. Pfund’s own track record is a testament to investing with a social purpose. Five of the 18 companies in her first fund, which was started in 2004, have gone public, including SolarCity, Pandora Media and Tesla Motors.