Five Green Business Leaders to Watch

by | May 4, 2009

solarinstallReuters News and Venture Capital Journal have selected five decision makers who will lead green business in technology, energy usage and climate change in the months and years ahead.

The leaders are making waves in the political and public arenas, and behind the doors of their respective corporations.

The five key decision makers selected are:

  • Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures;
  • Dan Reicher, director of climate change and energy initiatives at;
  • Jennifer Fonstad, managing director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson;
  • Lyndon Rive, CEO, Solar City, and
  • Matt Kistler, Wal-Mart senior vice president for sustainability.

Here are several reasons why they were chosen as leaders in green business.

Khosla has invested in companies working on waste water and water desalinization, solar, geothermal and cellulosic ethanol. He recently criticized the current green movement as more about style than substance.

Reicher has invested Google’s philanthropic funds behind a range of possible renewable energy breakthroughs, including $10 million for geothermal, but also solar thermal and high-altitude wind power, according to Reuters. Two early recipients of’s funding were geothermal firms AltaRock Energy and Potter Drilling, in addition to eSolar. Reicher has also been the driving force behind Google’s free software that lets consumers track home electricity use and reduce energy use.

Fonstad focuses on a broad set of technology and life sciences companies, including cleantech. Reuters says one of the investments that helped make her #89 on the Forbes Midas List is GreenFuel Technologies, which feeds carbon dioxide produced by power plants to algae, which is then converted into biofuel.

The focus of Rive’s SolarCity is to drive geographic clusters of homes and businesses to go solar, and then reap cost savings from economies of scale, reports Reuters. The company sells, leases, installs and maintains solar panels for residences and small businesses, with a side business in energy efficiency consulting. SolarCity’s latest installations includes a dual-array, 1,502-panel solar power system that will power a Greenwaste’s material recovery facility in San Jose, California, and a new 100-kilowatt (kW) solar installation at Intel’s Jones Farm Campus in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Kistler is the public face behind Wal-Mart’s sustainability efforts, from reducing plastic bag use, aimed at cutting plastic bag waste by a third by 2013, to reaching new fuel efficiency targets for its truck fleet, says Reuters. Wal-Mart aims to double the amount of solar power it uses over the next 18 months, and wants to eliminate all waste by reducing, recycling or reusing everything that comes into its 4,100 American stores by 2025.

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