These Early Tesla Investors Are Pouring Millions Into Companies That Could Change The World

DBL Partners are powering the companies that create more than just financial returns.

Fast Company
July 20, 2015


Ten years ago when Nancy Pfund first started mak­ing social impact invest­ments, many peo­ple were skep­ti­cal about the idea of invest­ing both for profit and social ben­e­fit. You either made money or you did good, but rarely both. “It was unheard of by most,” she says. “There was a very lim­ited set of investors who were pre­pared to take the plunge.”

Today, impact invest­ing has gained a lot of accep­tance, and that’s reflected in the size and sources of Pfund’s new $400 mil­lion social impact fund. “The notion that you can make fan­tas­tic returns with­out hav­ing to sac­ri­fice your mis­sion, and vice versa, has really moved from the mar­gins to the main­stream,” she says.

Pfund is man­ag­ing part­ner of DBL Part­ners (DBL stands for dou­ble bot­tom line) and most famous for being an early investor in Tesla and SolarCity, two pow­er­houses of the green econ­omy. She’s joined in the lat­est fund by Ira Ehren­preis, another early Tesla investor. They make the case that impact invest­ing has matured in sev­eral ways, start­ing with the atti­tude of entre­pre­neurs themselves.

It used to be that we would have to some­times prop­a­gate some of the ideas and then that would get them started,” Pfund says. “Now the entre­pre­neurs are often five steps ahead of us. That’s some­thing we’re excited about get­ting going from the very beginning.”

Ehren­preis adds: “The change we’ve seen is that entre­pre­neurs are really embrac­ing the notion they actu­ally don’t have to have a trade­off. They can change the world and build a great com­pany in the process.”

To read the full arti­cle, visit Fast Com­pany.