The early-stage carbon offset API developer Patch could be another one of Andreessen Horowitz's early bets on climate tech.
According to several people with knowledge of the investment round, former OpenTable chief executive and current Andreessen Horowitz partner Jeff Jordan is looking at leading the young company's latest financing.
Such an investment would be a win for Patch, which could benefit from Andreessen Horowitz's marketing muscle in a space that's becoming increasingly crowded. And, if the deal goes through, it could be an indicator of more to come from one of the venture industry's most (socially) active investors.
Companies like Pachama, Cloverly, Carbon Interface and Cooler.dev all have similar API offerings, but the market for these types of services will likely expand as more companies try to do the least amount of work possible to become carbon neutral through offsetting. A growing market could generate space for more than one venture-backed winner.
Neither Patch's co-founders nor Andreessen Horowitz responded to a request for comment about the funding.
One concern with services like Patch is that its customers will look at offsetting as their final destination instead of a step on the road to removing carbon emissions from business operations. To fix our climate crisis will take more work.
Around 15 to 20 companies are using the service now, according to people familiar with the company's operations.
The company has an API that can calculate a company's emissions footprint based on an integration with their ERP system, and then invests money into offset projects that are designed to remove an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.
While services like Pachama privilege lower-cost sequestration solutions like reforestation and forest management, Patch offers an array of potential investment opportunities for offsets. And the company tries to nudge its customers to some of the more expensive, high-technology options in an effort to bring down costs for emerging technologies, said one person familiar with the company's plans.
Like other services automating offsetting, Patch evaluates projects based on their additionality (how much additional carbon they're removing over an already established baseline), permanence (how long the carbon emissions will be sequestered) and verifiability.
And, as the company's founders note in their own statement about the company's service, it's not intended to be the only solution that customers deploy.
"The majority of climate models indicate that we need to reduce our emissions globally, while also removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," the founders wrote in a Medium post. "We take care of a company’s carbon removal goals, while they focus their efforts on reducing emissions, a more proprietary task that requires intimate operational knowledge. Patch complements this behavioral shift and gives us a real chance to mitigate climate change."
VersionOne's Angela Tran addressed any concerns about the defensibility of Patch's technology in her own September announcement.
"We also believe that defensibility comes with the aggregation and 'digitization' of quality supply. When we view Patch as a marketplace, we believe that businesses (demand) care about the type of projects (supply) they purchase to neutralize their emissions," Tran wrote. "For example, a company might choose their sustainability legacy to be linked with forestry or mineralization projects. Patch is partnering with the best carbon removal developers and the latest negative emission technologies to build a network of low-cost, impactful projects."
While Patch is explicitly focused on climate change, Andreessen has made a few early investments in a broad sustainability thesis. The firm led a $9 million investment into Silo last year and backed KoBold Metals back in 2019.
Silo has developed an enterprise resource planning tool for perishable food supply chains. Currently focused on wholesale produce, Silo said in a statement last year that it would be extending its services to meat, dairy and pantry items over the next year.
“The market potential for an innovator like Silo to reduce waste and improve margins is enormous and we’re excited to support its efforts as the system of record for food distribution in the United States,” said Anish Acharya, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, in a statement at the time. “Silo is well-positioned to scale beyond the west coast to help more customers modernize and transition their operations from pen and paper to software.”
Meanwhile, KoBold is a software developer that uses machine learning and big data processing technologies to find new prospects for the precious metals that companies need to make new batteries and renewable energy generation technologies.
"By building a digital prospecting engine — full stack, from scratch — using computer vision, machine learning, and sophisticated data analysis not currently available to the industry, KoBold’s software combines previously unavailable, dark data with conventional geochemical, geophysical, and geological data to identify prospects in models that can only get better over time, as with other data network effects," wrote Connie Chan in a blog post at the time.
Taken together, these investments coalesce into a picture of how Andreessen Horowitz and its pool of $16.5 billion in assets under management may approach the renewables industry.