Why We Hired Michele Spitzer, our New Head of Portfolio & Platform
It is no secret that all VCs sell variations of the same product: capital.
It can be difficult to comprehend the scale of the aggregate effort required across domains - both technological and economic - for a decarbonized society to emerge as a practical reality. Focusing on capital investment alone, McKinsey estimates global investment in energy infrastructure and related technologies will need to rise from the current ~$1T to ~$4T annually to achieve net zero emissions (NZE) by 2050. To enable this scale of investment, government actors have worked with increasing urgency to craft a mosaic of incentives for research institutions and private industry to invest in the technologies, infrastructure, and energy projects required for this transition to occur. However, this effort has been hampered historically in part by the uncertainty prospective investors, asset owners and developers have faced in evaluating grid-related projects. What project size (kWh) and siting (precise project location) is optimal, based on the existing grid and inclusive of any downstream grid upgrades required to enable a given project to be viable? What shape of demand curve is this project likely to face, and what project economics does that imply? Is there a reasonable basis for belief that this project can receive the required permits and related approvals needed to build? What are the realistic soft costs associated with a given project, during both the construction and operational phases? To move forward, a scalable approach to answering these questions will be required.
Fortunately, these are precisely the questions Asymmetric portfolio company Alpha Grid is building to solve - and a large part of why we were thrilled to lead their recently-announced fundraise. The company has been building an ML-enabled, data-driven renewable energy project development platform - with the intent of enabling real estate asset owners, project developers, and similar ecosystem players to answer fundamental questions of technological and economic viability across the lifetime of the project. Alpha Grid’s platform provides insight to developers and seeks to reduce costs across customer acquisition, engineering workflow, labor, interconnection, unexpected grid upgrades, and ongoing operations. We believe a vertical software platform approach is appropriate here for many reasons, but would highlight two as most important: (i) software is far more efficient than humans in parsing through competing alternatives when the count of possible alternatives is high, which is the case for grid projects with many discrete variables and (ii) Alpha Grid’s approach has the potential to create a step function improvement in efficiency for project developers, completing a greater scope of work in minutes than consultants would typically complete in months. The company is starting with EV charging as its initial wedge, and we believe over time can grow into a data-advantaged ecosystem player across a far larger swath of the US electrical grid.
When we first met Alpha Grid’s co-founders, Phil and Luke, they were armed with a big vision, deep domain expertise from their years pioneering breakthrough grid technology together at Google X, and an extraordinary drive to make their dent in the world’s broader electrification story. At Asymmetric, we love partnering with founders at this formative stage, when the possibilities are endless and the white space for ideation is unconstrained. As the societal effort toward decarbonization continues to gain momentum, we believe Alpha Grid is well-positioned to make a meaningful contribution to the cause - and we are thrilled to be their partner along the way.
Learn more about Alpha Grid's funding announcement here:
Image credits: Alpha Grid
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