Green revolution rocks on, Khosla already making money

Latest green technology developments:Vinod Khosla is rocking after barely two years — Khosla (pictured below), the Silicon Valley venture capitalist who hit it big during the telecom boom in the 1990s, turned two years ago to embrace green technoloy. We thought his outlandish bets on untested technologies such as celulosic ethanol – which most experts caution will be only be commercially viable in two years, at the earliest — would take some time to show results.

khosla8.bmpYet his investment in Cambridge, Mass.-based Celunol last year (we believe it was May; we’re checking) as part of a $60 million venture capital round, has already yielded fruit. San Diego’s Diversa just bought the company for about $182.45 million. Cellulosic ethanol is a process that uses non-food plants and other waste to make ethanol, and it is much more efficient, and thus better for the environment, than regular corn-based ethanol.

This is good news — and it’s bound to set a wave of green-colored VC lemmings in his direction.

This will too: Boston’s EnerNOC, an other energy company, has filed for a $100M initial public offering on the Nasdaq. It helps manage power supply and demand on the grid, helping make it more efficient. The company had raised around $28 million in funding since 2003 — from Foundation Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Braemar Energy Ventures and DFJ New England — another solid result.

Green tech investments tripled last year.

Update: George below rightly points out there were other invetsors in Celunol besides Khosla Ventures. Others wre Braemar Energy Ventures (yep, same Braemar that backed EnerNOC), Charles River Ventures and Rho Ventures.

Update II: We’re still waiting for public documents to confirm how long Khosla and other investors will have to hold their stock (see comment below), but we’re told it is six months. Moreover, we’re told Khosla made about five times his investment in the company, and that he first invested about two years ago (keep in mind that he invested in a portion of the $60M, and that some of the $60 million my have included prior money before the company was restarted by venture investors).

As for the Diversa-Celunol merger rationale, here’s what we’re hearing: You need three components for biochemical cellulosic process: a) pretreatment b) efficient bugs and c) low cost enzymes. Celunol provides technology for the bugs (from University of Florida research), while Diversa provides low-cost enzymes.