It looks good on paper. Combine the managerial expertise of the computer world's start-ups with the growing market for green energy.
But, as Larry Gross as discovered, it doesn't always work. Gross, brother of Bill Gross and a former entrepreneur at Idealabs, is no longer the CEO of AltraBiofuels, according to Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech. The 4-year-old AltraBiofuels has pulled in millions in venture funds.
So far, there's no explanation for the departure.
Gross, though, isn't the only former IT exec to also be a former energy exec. Late last year, Martin Tobias, a software VC in the '90s, stepped down as CEO of biodiesel refiner Imperium Renewables. Imperium also delayed its IPO. Martin Eberhard, one of the founders of Tesla Motors, stepped down last year too amid delay to Tesla's cars. Eberhard had an e-book company before that. And Dave Pearce, a former hard-drive exec, stepped down as CEO of Miasole, last year. (Pearce, though, has a new company.)
Although it's tough to generalize, you can argue for a common thread. Namely, that the money, complexity, and capital requirements of clean companies are a lot different than IT companies. Interestingly, the two big clean IPOs from last year--Comverge and EnerNoc--revolved around ways to exploit IT networks for thermostat control. And two of the big solar successes on Wall Street in the past few years--SunPower and First Solar--are largely run by people who've been toiling in solar for decades.
And, of course, many former Silicon Valley execs seem to be doing fine. Look at Martin Roscheisen at Nanosolar and David Cope of Purfresh.