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Tony Blair joins California green technology venture capital firm

The former British prime minister will help shape public policy for companies in Khosla Ventures' $1.1-billion tech portfolio.

May 25, 2010|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from San Francisco — The green technology movement in Silicon Valley landed an international name Monday when Khosla Ventures said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair would join the venture capital firm as a senior advisor.

Khosla Ventures, the Menlo Park, Calif., firm founded by Vinod Khosla in 2004, made the announcement at its summit for limited partners in Sausalito. Blair will advise Khosla Ventures portfolio companies on public policy. Khosla is currently investing $1.1 billion in tech firms, including so-called clean technology.

Blair, who leads the "Breaking the Climate Deadlock" effort, which is trying to build consensus toward an international climate policy, said technology could help solve the "twin challenges" of climate change and energy security.

"Solving the climate crisis is more than just a political agenda item. It's an urgent priority that requires innovation, creativity and ambition," Blair said. "I share a clear vision with Vinod, one of the earliest leaders in clean-tech investment, that entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and beyond will have a tremendous impact on our environmental future."

Khosla has continued to invest in the sector even as other venture capitalists have scaled back, daunted by high costs and unproven technologies. The total venture capital invested in clean technology companies fell to $2.3 billion in 2009 from $4.1 billion in 2008, according to the National Venture Capital Assn.

Blair accompanied the company's founder Sunday on a tour of the Calera green cement demonstration plant in Moss Landing, Calif. Calera, a Khosla Ventures portfolio company, uses carbon emissions to make cement products.

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

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