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Issue Date: April 1, 2008, Posted On: 3/28/2008

Range Fuels raises $100m in biggest deal so far this year

VC Report

By Mark Connors

In what is easily the largest venture capital transaction of the year for a South Asian-managed company, green technology start-up Range Fuels Inc. recently raised $100 million in new funding.

Range Fuels was founded by prominent venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, in 2006. The company converts plants and lumber into fuel-grade ethanol for energy production by using emerging clean technology techniques. The company says the conversion takes place without the release of any greenhouse gases.

Range Fuels recently broke ground on the nation’s first ever commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Soperton, Georgia. The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue.

“The state of Georgia has provided us with an excellent opportunity to locate our first plant using its abundant, renewable forest resources as feedstock. Our technology tran­s­forms the wood and wood waste from Geo­rgia’s millions of acres of woodlands in­to ethanol, a key source of transportation fuel,” said Mitch Man­dich, chief executive officer of Range Fuels. “Range Fuels’ focus on green, renewable energy will ultimately reduce greenhouse gases, promote energy independence, and create new jobs.”

An undisclosed energy investor led the round and Khosla Ventures contributed $25 million. Range Fuels is based in Broomfield, Colo.

In other venture capital news:

  • Semiconductor company eASIC Corp. recently raised $48 million in venture capital funding. The round, the company’s largest to date, included investors Advanced Equity Partners, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Crescendo Ventures and Evergreen Venture Partners. Craig Klosterman, chief financial officer of eASIC, also invested in the round. Ronnie Vasishta is the president and CEO of eASIC. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said the funding would go to support new product development and deployment and enhanced customer support.
  • VentiRx Pharmaceuticals Inc., a San Diego-based developer of medicines for the treatment of cancer and respiratory and infectious diseases, recently hauled in $26.6 million in its first round of funding. The round was led by Frazier Healthcare Ventures with participation from ARCH Venture Partners and Domain Associates. VentiRx was founded in 2006 by Michael Kamdar, who now serves as chief business officer of the company.
  • Altierre Corp., a provider of wireless pricing services for retailers, recently raised $22 million in its third round of funding. The San Jose, Calif.-based company said the funding would go into expanding its production and manufacturing facilities. The Galleon Group led the round with participation from ATA Ventures, D. E. Shaw Group, Dupont Capital Management and Labrador Ventures. Sunit Saxena is the chairman and CEO of Altierre.
  • Online payment provider Zuora Inc. recently raised $6.5 million in its first round of funding. Zuora provides an online platform to help facilitate subscription payments and was launched by veterans of Salesforce.com and WebEx Communications. K.V. Rao is the founder and president of Redwood City, Calif.-based Zuora. Benchmark Capital led the funding round.
  • India-based Consim Info Pvt. Ltd., formerly the BharatMatrimony Group, recently raised $11.75 in its second round of funding. The Mayfield Fund led the round with participation from Yahoo! and Canaan Partners. Consim hosts a slate of 13 Internet sites like BharatMatrimony.com, Muslim­Matrimonial.com and Christian­Matrimony.com that provide a platform for individuals of the same religion to share and exchange personal information with the hopes of finding a marriage partner.

On the investor side of the deals:

  • The Mayfield Fund recently participated in a $9.5 million venture capital round of Internet advertising provider Gigya Inc. Benchmark Capital and First Round Capital also participated in the round. Gigya, based in New York, targets Internet social media sites. Navin Chaddha is the managing director of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based Mayfield Fund.

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