Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie have turned their private investment firm, Grok Ventures, into the country’s first $2 billion venture capital fund with a pledge to invest that figure into climate change-focused companies.
Cannon-Brookes, estimated to be Australia’s third richest person with a personal fortune of around $33.5 billion, went public today with a promise to personally commit $1.5 billion of their family wealth to climate change philanthropy and green investments over the next decade in a bid limit the earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees.
The pledge doubles down on the $1 billion Grok Ventures has already invested in a range of startups, from Canva to Culture Amp, SpaceX, Who Gives a Crap, Bitcoin, nano-satellite startup Fleet Space Technologies and Spriggy.
Among the investments Grok’s made in green-focused startups is the $30 billion plan by Sun Cable to power Singapore using a solar farm in the Northern Territory.
It’s also backed home solar fintech Brighte, Sun Drive Solar, the Sydney solar panel startup that will drive the Sun Cable project, Goterra, the maggot-based waste management business, Michael Fox’s mushroom-based faux meat venture Fable Food Co. and Sydney cultured meat venture Vow.
Alongside the $1 billion climate tech investment strategy, the Cannon-Brookes’ have also pledged to give away $500 million in philanthropy.
Speaking to ABC Radio Sydney, the Atlassian boss, an outspoken campaigner on climate issues on Twitter, said the decarbonisation of the planet is the biggest economic opportunity for Australia over the next 20 years.
“Things like the creation of jobs, improvement in the standard of living and growth of our economy — but we have to make changes to take advantage of that, otherwise it will be taken advantage of by other nations and economies,” he said.
“When it becomes a positive economic issue it’s much harder to argue against than when it’s a doing the right thing versus doing the wrong thing issue, which can be subjective.”
As for where he plans to invest, Cannon-Brookes said there’s a huge array of opportunity from the creation of technology to the deployment.
“I tend to focus on deployment because I believe we have most of the technology today to make a huge impact,” he said.
In a statement to Startup Daily, Cannon-Brookes said: “This is about raising ambition and urgency on personal, business and government levels. Myself and Annie are raising our ambition, Atlassian is raising its ambition. Others copying this model would be an incredible result. Together we can create meaningful change.”
The focus on green investment follows the recent analysis of the Australian and New Zealand climate tech ecosystem by Climate Salad, as well as the $100 million climate tech fund launched by Investible.