Return on Inclusion | May 4, 2023

KKR acquires CoolIT to advance both climate impact and worker ownership

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, May 4 – The world’s growing uses for data are creating an environmental problem: data centers consume a lot of energy. Preventing them from overheating compounds the problem because most cooling chemicals release potent greenhouse gasses.

CoolIT has been developing a greener way to cool data centers for more than 20 years. Its “direct liquid cooling” technology is more efficient than other cooling systems, requiring smaller quantities of coolant while lowering centers’ energy and water usage. KKR acquired the company through its second global impact fund.

“We are grappling with the enormous energy usage and related environmental impacts that are only expected to accelerate with the rise of AI and other high performance applications,” said KKR’s Kyle Matter. “We believe that liquid cooling has a critical role to play in helping to reduce the emissions footprint of our digital economy.”

As part of the deal, KKR will help CoolIT employees take an ownership stake in the company. A key part of KKR’s strategy is to support worker ownership “based on the belief that employee engagement is a key driver in building stronger companies.”

More than 50,000 non-management employees at 30 companies have secured billions of dollars in equity value through the strategy, KKR says. Last year, C.H.I. Overhead Doors’ 800 workers scored average payouts of $175,000 when KKR sold the company to Nucor Corp.