New Cycle Capital Having a Go at Multiple-Bottom-Line Investing

December 8th, 2007

New Cycle Capital is a new venture firm with a mandate to make money while investing in the “green economy” and underserved domestic markets. This is an area I find fascinating because it is such an intricate dance; some of my earlier thoughts on it are here.

Companies focused on a single, economic bottom line really have one big thing to think about- making money. Companies that adopt a triple bottom line approach or some variation on it are juggling almost by definition to find a profitable business that supports the non-economic goals.

I think most companies can’t really put that off very well, which is why they settle for making money in one arena and using it to do good in others. Investment funds run much the same way. The Omidyar Network, for example, cites a commitment to “creating opportunity for individuals to improve the quality of their lives”, but a quick look at its Portfolio page shows a split between for-profit and non-profit investments.

Pacific Community Ventures is a $60M family of funds trying to do things differently. Part of their mandate is that portfolio companies employ a portion of their workforces in low/moderate income communities. They invested in Timbuk2, whose bags are made by just such people in San Francisco.

The fact that PCV is not a household name may suggest that this area is a hard-to-serve niche. I’ll be watching New Cycle Capital as another entrant in the field, and hoping to see more funds taking similar approaches.

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  • conomic bottom line really have one big thing to think about- making money. Companies that adopt a triple bottom line approach or some variation on it are juggling almost by definition to find a profitable business that supports the non-economic goals.