John Doerr
Source: Getty Images

Investor John Doerr Built His Net Worth Supporting Cleantech Companies

Danielle Letenyei - Author

Nov. 11 2021, Published 2:31 p.m. ET

Venture capitalist John Doerr has built his net worth of $15 billion by supporting cleantech startups at his firm Kleiner Perkins.

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Doerr, 70, is listed by Forbes as 51st on its list of Billionaires in 2021. He's the only investor to appear every year for two decades on Forbes’ Midas List of top venture capitalists. That is quite an accomplishment for a guy who didn’t have a job when he first got to Silicon Valley in 1975.

John Doerr

Venture Capitalist

Net worth: $15 billion

John Doerr and his firm Kleiner Perkins were early investors in big-name tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Compaq. Doerr is also an advocate for combating climate change. His recent book, Speed & Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now, lays out a plan for the world to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

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Most of Doerr’s wealth comes from leading the firm to back top technology companies like Compaq Computer Corp., Sun Microsystems, Netscape, Intuit, Google (now Alphabet), and Amazon.

net zero
Source: Getty Images
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Doerr is an advocate for fighting climate change.

Doerr is an advocate for combating global warming and climate change by supporting clean energy technologies. He reportedly credits his daughter for influencing his advocacy. She told him, "Your generation created this problem, you better fix it,” after the family attended a 2006 screening of former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

According to Forbes, Doerr’s firm, Kleiner Perkins, has led Silicon Valley’s cleantech movement to invest in zero-emission technologies since 2006. He also recently attended the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

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Doerr says that not enough is being done to limit global warming.

In an interview with Forbes, Doerr said that not enough is being done to limit global warming. He said that efforts to curb climate change need “more urgency and ambition.”

“More than anything, we need a plan,” Doerr told Forbes. “We’ve got lots of goals and targets, and good ones at that. What we lack is a clear way forward that aims squarely at the countries and sectors emitting the most greenhouse gases and can do the most to abate them.”

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Doerr’s book “Speed & Scale” outlines a plan to combat climate change.

In his recent book, Speed & Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now, Doerr lays out a plan for the world to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The deadline was set by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

To ensure that the goal of net-zero emissions is met by 2050, the world needs to cut emissions in half by 2030, Doerr said. "Policies, movements, innovation, and investment can help accelerate us to those goals," he said.

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Source: Twitter

“We need more pressure from mass movements, more funding from investors, more innovation from entrepreneurs,” Doerr told Forbes.

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In Speed & Scale, Doerr outlines six big solutions for meeting net-zero emissions goals:

  • electrify transportation

  • decarbonize the power grid

  • fix the food and agriculture system

  • protect forests, oceans, and other natural ecosystems

  • change the way things like concrete and steel are made

  • remove carbon emissions

The book features several business leaders talking about what solutions they have incorporated to help fight climate change. For example, Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos talks about his company’s pledge to use renewable energy in its operations. General Motors CEO Mary Barra talks about encouraging ride-sharing with electric vehicles.

“My message is simple: Solving climate change is the greatest economic opportunity of our lifetimes and will create a net gain of 25 million jobs by the end of the decade. But if we fail, the costs to humanity will be staggering,” Doerr told Forbes.


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