Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Check Out VC The Roda Group -- Exclusively Focused Now on Climate Change -- My Interview

Yesterday, I wrote about Berkeley-based venture fund The Roda Group led by Roger Strauch and Dan Miller. The fund has a phenomenal record of success -- and I am proud to have led one of those successful companies (video chat leader SightSpeed, which was acquired by Logitech). My post was written just prior to my meeting yesterday at Roda and with Dan.

In a wide-ranging meeting in Berkeley, Dan and I caught up, reminisced and I gave him an update on developments in the video world and my time at Sorenson Media. Dan is an extremely successful and talented man -- who has many interests. But, his top priority is climate change -- and he is a leading, internationally respected activist in that realm. And, suffice it to say, what Dan sees -- based on interacting regularly with the foremost global experts on climate change -- ain't pretty. It's beyond sobering. And, we are seeing those very real disturbing impacts of climate change as we speak -- look at the record heat wave in the U.S. right now. We are in the dust bowl days in Texas again. At the same time, look at the concurrent record flooding. And, of course, the worst tornadoes on record earlier this year in the U.S. And, that's just the U.S.! Yet, we all -- as a society -- continue to essentially place our collective heads in the sand about this indisputable truth which is beyond "inconvenient." It is essentially incomprehensible. Yet, we must do what we can to comprehend it. And act on it.

So, what do Dan and Roger -- and all of The Roda Group -- do to act on it? Apart from being respected experts on climate change who use their time to educate and motivate, Dan and Roger have shifted the entire emphasis of their fund to act on it. Previously, The Roda Group's portfolio was eclectic -- simply investing in great revolutionary technologies ahead of others. And, they succeeded beautifully. But, it ain't all about money to Roger and Dan -- it is about passion -- it is about giving (they are major philanthropists as well) -- it is about what matters most. And, that is life itself. And -- here's the added bonus -- there are tremendous investment opportunities to spur solutions to the cataclysmic forces in our amidst. So, The Roda Group's focus is now as follows (this comes directly from the firm's website):

"We look forward to investing in, and supporting, extraordinary people and businesses that address the issues associated with climate change, the increasing demand for low carbon energy, and the stress on the Earth's natural resources. We believe innovative solutions to these global challenges will benefit society and offer outstanding investment opportunities."

Here's the thing -- as I discussed in yesterday's post -- The Roda Group already has scored a massive success on both goals by having led the investment in renewable oil company Solazyme (which just recently went public and now has a near $1.4 billion market cap). You should check out this revolutionary company that offers so much promise to us all -- click here.

I am also proud to say that Dan considers my former company SightSpeed to have been The Roda Group's first climate change-related investment. How? Because video conferencing can minimize the need for business travel -- fewer planes, trains and automobiles. I know this is true because I lived this both at SightSpeed, and also at Sorenson Media (the company I now lead). We use video conferencing to great effect to reduce our need to travel as regularly as we otherwise would. This is real stuff. It works.

I plan to write more about The Roda Group on an ongoing basis -- as well as my further personal journey learning more about climate change. I have a wife. I have two kids. I need to know much more than I do today. I need to have perspective -- real perspective -- because we certainly ain't getting it in our day-to-day lives from Washington, D.C. -- or from the traditional media.

And, I believe that holds true for society in general.

Bravo to The Roda Group for being on the forefront for both advocacy, but also for solutions-focused entrepreneurialism. Massive opportunities exist addressing needed change. And, we all ultimately will benefit for generations to come ... assuming we, societies, get on board and follow that kind of leadership.

The Roda Group is worth following. It is worth checking out. They are good people on a mission. And, if their past track record is any indication, they -- and their investors -- will have future massive successes that can also make them feel good that they have made a real difference with the most significant issue that has ever faced human civilization. Sounds incredibly dramatic, I know. But, that ain't over-stating things a bit.

Even that is an understatement. But, we simply haven't been able to wrap our heads around it precisely because it is THAT dramatic ...