Khosla backs latest Silicon Valley solar start-up: NStructures

Silicon Beat
By Matt Marshall

July 17, 2006

NStructures, a secretive Silicon Valley (Saratoga) start-up developing photovoltaic cell technologies, has raised $3.15 million of a planned $6.3 million first round of funding, according to a regulatory filing. Backers include Khosla Ventures and Braemar Energy Ventures, according to the filing, first reported last week by PE Week.

It is the latest in a binge of investing by Khosla's group into clean technologies start-ups. Samir Kaul, a partner at Khosla Ventures, the firm launched last year by well-known venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, will take a seat on the board, according to a report at VentureWire (sub required).

This comes less than a month after it was revealed that Kaul joined Khosla Ventures to focus on clean-energy investments. These guys are pulling out the stops. Khosla's group has invested heavily into ethanol, battery and other energy related start-ups. While Khosla has mentioned he was looking at solar, this is their first actual solar investment we're aware of.

Nothing is publicly known about what this company is doing, but Kaul tells VentureWire it is a “third generation” solar technology — presumably referring to technology that follows the incumbent silicon-based technology we are acquainted with, and the newer second-generation of paint-like technologies produced from non-silicon materials and which you can paste on the roofs of large buildings (for example, Palo Alto's Nanosolar). We have requested comment from Khosla Ventures.

NStructures is led by Chester (Chet) Farris, who also serves on the company's board. He previously headed Shell Solar Industries, a Camarillo, Calif. subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell focused on solar energy technologies. Before that, he was at Siemens Solar, where he oversaw work in thin-film technologies based on Copper Indium DiSelenide (CIS), a technology similar to Nanosolar's technology. The Siemens group was acquired by Shell in 2002.