Dirty Money to Combat Climate Change: Should Climate VCs take Saudi LPs

Matt Ward
3 min readApr 24, 2023

Do the ends justify the means? That is the question we ALL ask ourselves every day.

Is being healthy worth training hard at the gym or skipping that tasty dessert?

Is your marriage worth more than that potential one night stand?

Are EVs and the energy transition worth overpromising on Tesla production and “full self-driving” capabilities…?

Where do we draw the line?

For example: Many climate VCs are starkly vegan. Many won’t even invest in technologies to mitigate the effects of animal agriculture.

They are “extremists,” in a sense, more worried about morals and righteousness than impact and actually solving the problem (more on that here).

The same could be said of LPs — specifically who startups & VC funds take their money from.

Saudi Arabia has been making waves in the VC community by announcing their LP stakes in many top venture funds. Because what better PR is there for the Kingdom than showing the world that they fund leading innovation?

Andressen literally went to the Kingdom to do a big “Saudi itself is a startup” dog and pony show and will probably announce a new Saudi fund any day now.

Source: TechCrunch

And of course, Adam Newmann is being Adam Neumann and chasing money wherever it comes.

But are they wrong? Sure, skepticism and criticism are warranted. And yes, oil money is dirty and comes with human suffering, pollution and baggage galore.

But at the same time, we also need to F*ing solve climate change.

If you were starving to death and Putin offered you pancakes, would you save yourself and eat or die in silent protest? Are your morals worth more than the mission itself?

Which brings us back to “enemies of the free world” and investing in climate tech…

We’re all on Team Planet together and regardless of Musk’s views on living in a simulation or moving to Mars, this is the ONLY planet we have for a VERY long time.

We have to save our planet and mitigate the effects of climate change or we’re looking at world wars, mass refugees, resource conflicts and much more…

The outlook is ABYSMAL.

Which brings us back to the question: do the ends justify the means?

Are we climate investors better off avoiding controversial LPs (like China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar etc…), or taking the money of ANYONE who is willing to invest?

Because every single dollar deployed into climate and cleantech now will have exponential impacts on our future?

Is earning money for dictators worth possibly avoiding a climate catastrophe?

Just food for thought…

What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

Would you take LP money from totalitarian regimes? Why or why not?

And what if Andressen or Sequoia announces a major Saudi fund… would that change your mind, once the “taboo” had been taken off the table?

Do the ends justify the means?

NOTE: The above is purely hypothetical and not to say that we have Saudi LPs (or even a fund per say) and merely thought to stimulate and much needed public debate on the subject.

Want more information on 4WARD.VC, our controversial climate tech investment thesis and about potential synergies with our Partner in Clime program?

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Matt Ward

Climate Syndicate Lead @ 4WARD.VC | Startup Strategy & Growth Advisor @ mattward.io | Serial Founder: 3 Exits | Looking to join top Climate/Impact VC Fund