Fund from Lukas Walton, S2G operators to invest in clean-energy companies – Crain’s Chicago Business


A multi-faceted organization focused on philanthropy and investing from Walmart heir Lukas Walton has launched a multimillion-dollar fund to back clean-energy companies.

Walton’s firm, Builders Vision, announced Wednesday the creation of a $300 million fund, managed by Builders Private Capital, to invest in companies across the world developing technologies to fight climate change. Builders Private Capital also includes S2G Ventures, a sustainable food, climate and ocean venture capital firm, co-founded by Open Table founder Chuck Templeton, which joined the Builders family earlier this month.

Builders Private Capital and S2G Ventures is led by chief investment officer and managing director Sanjeev Krishnan, but the firm has brought on two new managing directors—Stephan Feilhauer and Francis O’Sullivan—to focus specifically on managing the new $300 million fund.

Feilhauer is a veteran investor who came to Builders Private Capital from Sydney, Australia-based Macquarie Capital, where he oversaw growth equity investments in industrial tech and cleantech in the U.S. and Europe. O’Sullivan is also a veteran investor and researcher, coming to Builders from Ørsted, a Danish renewable energy company, where he managed the company’s early-stage and growth equity investment portfolio.

Andrea Woodside, who previously led market research and investment management at a division of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, has joined Builders Private Capital as vice president of real assets.

The firm’s umbrella company, Builders Vision, also encompasses a philanthropic arm called Builders Initiative and a strategic investing arm called Builders Asset Management. The entire organization, operated and heavily funded by Walton, is oriented toward sustainable agriculture and seafood conservation, rural development and addressing the impacts of climate change.

“It’s a platform to support people and organizations and portfolio companies around a healthy and humane planet, so a focus on climate at large,” Krishnan said.

With the new clean-energy fund, Builders plans to take a “flexible” and “multi-asset” approach. Rather than investing in early-stage startups and technologies, Builders wants to cut checks to mid-size and growth-stage companies that have already proved market stability. The idea is that by powering established companies, the transition to clean energy can be achieved faster.

“A lot of focus has been made on early-stage technology bets in the venture space and if you look at the background of Frank and myself, we really come from the background of scaling up large companies,” Feilhauer said. “We’re really excited about taking these early-stage companies that have now grown up and that are now at the growth-equity stage, where they’re not requiring single-digit millions but they’re requiring tens of millions and hundreds of millions for these technologies to be broadly deployed in the market.”

The fund is closed but Builders has yet to make its first investment, Krishnan said. Builders Private Capital said the average check will be anywhere from $10 million to $50 million. The firm plans to invest in about 10 to 20 companies.

Feilhauer said the fund will look for companies working to decarbonize the industrial sector, transportation, supply chain and logistics, as well as entities working on fleet electrification and battery storage.

“A lot of progress has been made in the energy transition,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re at a place today where clean energy as an element of the broader economy is really meaningful. But we urgently need to take a very significant step forward. We need to move from a meaningful role to a point where clean energy really is mainstream.”