Surveying 144 MBA students from the University of California, Berkeley, researches set out to determine how much graduate students actually know about climate change. The survey meant to serve as a rough measure of the students’ general awareness and knowledge of climate change, for which the shocking results indicated a lack of this knowledge despite high levels of climate activism and passion from the students. The results open up a broad discussion revolving around crucial questions. Could an individual be passionate about climate change, yet not understand some of the most basic aspects of it? Is climate activism sustainable if it is based on ignorance? If well-educated, well-informed graduate students at a top university needed a better grounding on climate, then was there much hope for the general public to drive informed progress on climate change? Could business leaders navigate a world in which passion about the climate was much stronger than an informed understanding of climate change?
This case study discusses Carbon180 and the challenges they face with policymakers and corporations. Early in 2021, under the new administration, growth opportunities for the climate-focused start-up seemed bright. However, the optimism about climate progress was tempered by a sense of realism as to the limits of what could be achieved in Congress and receptiveness of businesses to green policies becoming legally enforceable. Corporations have a lack of traction given the costs associated with addressing climate change and what that says to their institutional investors. While Carbon180’s focus was to develop, socialize, and enact science-driven and justice-oriented policies that would result in millions of tons of CO2 being removed from the atmosphere, the organization feared that without a government agency responsible for oversight, public companies would have a hard time choosing the more expensive option. This leads to discussions regarding how Carbon180 might encourage corporations to “do the right thing”, if government involvement is necessary, and if this is more of a global issue.
This case study revolves around an ethical dilemma for the Church Commissioners for England. In response to being notified of Equilibrium Capital’s intent to invest in the water treatment facility located at the cigarette company’s southeastern US plant, the Church Commissioners crafted a response expressing their concerns. In the letter, they described the present as living between Christ’s time on Earth and his second coming. Although perfection might not be possible currently, striving for it was worthy, which extended to not supporting morally undesirable companies. Upon receiving this response from the Church Commissioners, Equilibrium knew a follow-up response was necessary. Further complicating this situation was the diversity of interpretations held by LPs, many of whom had equally sophisticated ESG and sustainability protocols. The situation opens up a discussion regarding how each party should proceed, what solutions are available, who the stakeholders are, and how each side should come to terms with the possible outcomes.
This case centers on Better Ventures (BV) as it seeks to raise $20 million for its first standalone fund between 2014 and 2016. Encouraged by the economic return and social impact from those early-stage, mission-driven investments, Wes Selke and Rick Moss, co-founders, decided to raise a separate and much larger fund called Better Ventures Fund II (BVFII). This new fund would allow BV to make larger initial investments in its early stage portfolio companies and provide the needed capital to make add-on investments in subsequent financing rounds. The case discusses the challenges of raising capital for this new fund as well as BV’s investment and impact theses, deal sourcing, and post-investment approach. The case eventually explores the next steps for BV, after successfully raising this first-time fund.