Robert Downey Jr. Starts a Venture Capital Firm to Invest in Sustainable Business

By Elijah Labby Thursday, January 28, 2021

Robert Downey Jr. is throwing his hat in the venture capital ring, founding a venture capital firm focused on the conservation of the environment and combating climate change.

Footprint Coalition Ventures, the new pro-environment effort, is a realization of Downey Jr.’s belief that now is the best time for the promotion of sustainable business and pro-environment companies.

“This is no time to be an audience member,” he said at the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos summit on January 27. ”We are getting quite damn serious about our ability to be relevant in this space.”

Many hands holding up the Earth.

Venture Capital Investment in Sustainable Companies

Downey Jr. said that true change to the environment aimed at making business more sustainable would rely upon the support of the startup economy and the creation of new companies.

“This global existential threat is not something that’s going to be solved by a smattering of elite mega-corporations,” he said. “I think that paradigm must be smashed in favor of innovation by a broad set of new companies.”

One could argue that the time for heavy venture capital investment in support of the environment and companies that support it is ripe. Regulations of carbon-heavy industries and technologies are on the rise, and Downey Jr.’s future investment in sustainable technology could, in tandem with other business efforts, have the power to put a dent in a company environment dominated by fossil fuel business that are not sustainable in the long run.

Still, according to Jib Ellison, the founder of sustainable business strategy company Blu Skye, the economic forces behind the venture capital economy currently do not blow in favor of sustainable business.

“It’s generally cheaper to buy a product that has a worse impact on its environment than the equivalent product that does less harm,” the businessman told the Harvard Business Review. “Higher cost to the planet does not translate to a higher price to the customer. Of course, this is due to the fact that businesses are rarely obliged to pay for the full toll their operations take on the world. “

Downey Jr.’s Venture Capital Influence

In something of a comical exchange with the Axios Re:Cap podcast, Downey Jr. said his efforts at driving an increase in sustainable companies were influenced by his experiences acting in the Marvel Comics Universe.

"What I learned, if nothing else from my years with the MCU, is you stop siloing your efforts and you engage your audience,” he told host Dan Primack. “And there becomes this informational synergy that I think supercharges your efforts... I feel we're demonstrating that if you want to build a real coalition, then I think it's about access...[Tony Stark] got his priorities straight by the end. It didn't turn out so well for him, but it wound up being the right thing for the team."

About the Author


Headshot for author Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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