Makani Power whips up another $5 million windfall from Google

Jackson West · 08/26/08 10:40AM

Click to view Makani Power, the company founded in part by Larry Page and Sergey Brin's kitesurfing buddy Don Montague, has scored another $5 million in investment from Google as part of a second round that could net as much as $20 million. That's on top of the $10 million already invested in the startup's plan to create electricity from high-altitude air currents. This money, like the first round, presumably comes from's project to tap into renewable energy that's cheaper than coal. I may have to revise my opinion of as just another corporate venture fund and green PR ploy.Considering how CEO Eric Schmidt funnels money to his real estate-developer wife Wendy Schmidt through charitable organizations and cofounder Sergey Brin's wife Anne Wojcicki cashed in on Google's money for her vanity gene-sequencing startup 23andMe, seems more like another vehicle for the Mountain View advertising firm's executives to lavish money on friends and family.

Google invests in BrightSource's steam and mirrors

Jackson West · 05/14/08 01:20PM

BrightSource Energy, a renewable energy startup that wants to build solar thermal plants which use sunlight reflected from mirrors to heat water to steam and power electricity-generating turbines, has pulled in $115 million. The investment was led by, Google's quasi-nonprofit arm; VantagePoint; BP; Statoil Hydro; and Black River, and brings the Oakland-based startup's total funding to $160 million. The company has already signed a contract to supply local monopoly Pacific Gas & Electric with 900 megawatts of power by 2016.

At Google, failed entrepreneur Larry Brilliant to save the world with entrepreneurialism

Jackson West · 04/07/08 07:00PM

Rolling Stone's profile of director Larry Brilliant presents a man with an unimpeachable reputation in public health and a decidedly impeachable one in private business. Since is run more like a venture fund than a traditional philanthropic foundation, the company's supposedly humanitarian work is expected to serve pecuniary self-interest. The RE<C project to replace coal with renewable energy sources could certainly prove quite profitable. But Brilliant's expertise is in epidemiology, and as anyone in big pharma can tell you, there's very little money to be made in curing diseases, especially in the developing world. The piece does have an interesting sidenote — Steve Jobs ran into Brilliant on his way to meet guru Neem Karoli Baba. Which explains where Jobs learned what it takes to lead a cult. (Photo by Pierre Omidyar)

In case of emergency, Twitter

Mary Jane Irwin · 01/17/08 05:36PM

Perhaps inspired by Jason Calcanis's successful Twitter for help when stranded sans passport in Paris, the do-gooding has launched the Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disaster project — essentially a Web 2.0-fueled emergency broadcast system that will spread disaster-related tidings. With so many people friending and tracking strangers, it only seems logical that you'd base an early warning system on Twitter and Facebook. Instead of inane ramblings, InSTEDD would track text messages between humanitarian workers to help track down resources in the event of an outbreak, and it will help people track down nearby friends. Hopefully InSTEDD's Twitterlike bot will be a bit more reliable than the original.

Google: We give away less than Gates because we're smarter

Nicholas Carlson · 01/17/08 04:47PM, Google's for-profit charity, announced all kinds of new initiatives today. The short version: health, climate change, good government. The basic idea, as MarketWatch notes in a video report about the project, is to approach "giving" like a venture capitalist. Thing is, Google's only "investing" about 3 percent as much as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. No matter, says Google's Larry Brilliant in this clip.

Megan McCarthy · 09/07/07 03:05PM

Wondering about the status of, Google's nonprofit arm? According to tax filings, "In 2006, the foundation had $4.07 million in revenue on its investments, and paid out $2.096 million." Sounds like a better return than most for-profit startups. [Docu-Drama]