The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Girish Nadkarni, Total Energy Ventures
Patrick Pouyanne, chairman & CEO at France-based oil major Total, said: “The world of energy and mobility is going through many exciting and disruptive changes driven by emerging technologies as well as new and innovative business models. In these times of large and constant change, it is critical to have an active and engaged corporate venture group to track potential disruptions and participate in emerging opportunities.
“We are delighted that last year we were able to attract Girish Nadkarni to head Total Energy Ventures and are proud that he has been nominated to be on the GCV Powerlist for the fifth year.”
Nadkarni had been president of ABB Technology Ventures from 2009 until October 2016, before taking the president position at Total Energy Ventures in 2017.
Nadkarni said he would move to Paris, France, to join Total Energy Ventures (TEV) while Francois Badoual, former chief executive of TEV in France, had moved to San Francisco to be president of Total New Energies Ventures USA.
For the GCV outlook survey this year, he said was watching smart grid and machine learning startups. This is part of a corporate venturing’s unit role to “man the crow’s nest and flag new sightings,” Nadkarni said, and so help management determine appropriate response.
But part of this advice is providing a dose of realism that most corporate venture groups do not have proprietary access to good early-stage deals or have the skills to guide them. And, given “there are few unicorns [companies worth at least $1bn] in our sectors,” Nadkarni recommended a new investment strategy focusing on avoiding loss, “not finding the next Google”.
In part this has been the recognition of experience in cleantech over the past decade when a wave of hype led VC firms to invest and suffer a host of failures, such as Solyndra or GreenVolts.
As a result, Nadkarni has put a focus on reducing loss ratio by investing in derisked growth-stage deals – those with at least $5m in annual revenues, 30% annual growth rates and paying customers.
To access innovation, emerging technologies and markets, TEV will also over the next five years invest $10,000 to $500,000 in 20 to 30 seed stage companies which have “high disruptive potential” and cut underperformers quickly and so avoid “endless” funding cycles.
Finally, TEV will also commit to VC funds, such as Cathay China Smart Energy Fund and Energy Access Fund, for new tech and markets and if it can have active engagement among other factors.
Prior to setting up ABB Technology Ventures, Nadkarni was senior vice-president of ABB’s robotics division. He also worked as an entrepreneur-in-residence at venture capital firm View Group, and was the founder and CEO of the startup VSimplify. .
Nadkarni’s past roles included work at industrial conglomerate GE, financial group Prudential and law firm Shearman & Sterling. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and studied law, economics and statistics at University of Mumbai.