The Brief | January 10, 2022

The Brief: Impact investors parody… themselves, Blackstone’s billions for clean energy, sustainable waste management, hyperlocal delivery in India, rent-to-own

The team at


Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

Featured: Creative Economy

We’ll know impact investing has arrived when it snags its own parody series on Netflix. Maybe it’s the brash head of the star-studded social impact fund who went to federal prison for his role in a college-admissions scandal. Or the ESG funds loaded with shares of fossil fuel and cigarette companies. Or the elite gatherings in Davos, Riyadh and Glasgow, where business leaders land in private jets to discuss how to reduce carbon emissions and save the world. With real-world examples so easy to mock, the stage is set to create an actual parody. And sell it to Netflix! That was the inspiration for a post on LinkedIn by Delilah Rothenberg last month. “Can somebody please produce a parody TV series on the #ESG and #impactinvesting space similar to Silicon Valley?” asked Rothenberg, founder of The Predistribution Initiative. The dozens of responses suggest that there’s not only an appetite for (presumably gentle) self-mocking, but plenty of rich material to mine and characters to skewer as well. 

Streamers and cable networks are already at work, pulling impact investing into the storylines of Billions, Sex / Life and The Oil Fund, a new sit-com that gets laughs from Norwegians trying to save the planet with trillions in oil winnings. Journalist Simon Clark is partial to the saga of Abraaj Group, the once high-flying Dubai-based private equity player that crashed amid charges of fraud and money laundering. “It also happens to be true,” says Clark, who recounted the cautionary tale in the book, The Key Man. Others pushed for an impact investing version of The Onion (such as The Sunion, which pokes fun at the solar industry), a TikTok channel, or an ESG version of Shark Tank. “It can be much more relatable, fun and a way to build trust if we can recognize some of our own humanity and imperfections in the field via parody,” Rothenberg told ImpactAlpha. “What better way to communicate finance’s role, which can often be complex and esoteric, than through pop culture?”

Keep reading, “We’ll know impact investing has arrived when it snags its own parody series on Netflix,” by David Bank on

Sponsored by J&J Impact Ventures

Putting people first in the digital health revolution. A digital health revolution is transforming healthcare with the promise of expanding health access. The market for global digital health was worth more than $180 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow by more than 16% each year through 2027. Impact investments “can help catalyze the growth of healthcare innovators, delivering lifesaving solutions faster to the people who need them most,” writes Johnson & Johnson’s Alice Lin Fabiano. Among J&J Impact Ventures’ investments: U.K.-based Patients Know Best, which connects patient data and electronic medical records, and NextStep, which provides digital and in-person training for health workers in the U.S.

Dealflow: Climate Finance

Blackstone injects $3 billion into Invenergy for large-scale clean energy projects. Mega funds are hunting for mega opportunities, we wrote in our lookahead at climate finance in 2022. Now comes Blackstone Infrastructure Partners with a $3 billion investment that is among the largest-ever in renewable energy. Chicago-based Invenergy Renewables develops, owns and operates renewable energy projects, like the Samson Solar Energy Center in northeast Texas and the Traverse Wind Energy Center in Oklahoma, both among the largest such projects in the U.S. Blackstone will be a minority owner, alongside Invenergy’s management and Canadian pension fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

  • Green foray. Blackstone raised an initial $14 billion for the infrastructure fund in 2019 from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and other investors, and has a target of as much as $40 billion. The fund has been light on green investments, making investments of $1 billion or more of “permanent capital” in toll road, airport and oil and gas pipeline operators. Blackstone’s Sean Klimczak said the firm is “committed to investing behind the energy transition.” In its broader portfolio, Blackstone says, it has committed nearly $13 billion to the energy transition, including last year’s $500 million commitment to ClearGen to build out commercial microgrids.
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Roadrunner raises $70 million from General Atlantic to manage waste and recycling. The Philadelphia-based company’s technology can predict waste generation and size companies’ storage and recycling needs. Roadrunner claims to have helped businesses divert more than 200,000 tons of waste from landfills. General Atlantic’s BeyondNetZero fund will support the company’s U.S. expansion. Roadrunner has raised nearly $130 million since 2014.

India’s Dunzo rakes in $240 million for quick local grocery delivery. The Bangalore-based delivery platform helps small and local businesses fill online orders for food, medicine and consumer goods in 300 neighborhoods in India. Google backed the company last year as part of a $10 billion plan to accelerate India’s digital economy, particularly among small businesses. Reliance Retail, an arm of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries, led the round with a $200 million investment for a 26% stake.

  • Digitalization. Dunzo will provide last-mile delivery services for Reliance’s retail stores. Participating investors include Lightrock, Lightbox, 3L Capital and Alteria Capital.
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Dealflow overflow. Other investment news crossing our desks:

  • S&P Global acquires The Climate Service, Inc. to expand its climate data, models and analytics.
  • Landis raises $165 million from Sequoia Capital, Roc Nation’s Arrive, Will Smith’s Dreamers VC and Signia Venture Partners to help renters become homeowners.
  • India B2B payments provider Rupifi raises $25 million from Bessemer Venture Partners, Tiger Global Management, Quona Capital, Ankur Capital and Better Capital.
  • U.K.-based Matter secures £368,000 ($500,000) from Builders Vision’s Rising Tide Fund to reduce microplastic pollution in oceans.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Fazeela Abdul Rashid, ex- of Temasek, joins Revolution Growth as a partner… Tim Goodman, ex- of Federated Hermes, joins Schroders as head of corporate governance… Energy analyst Kingsmill Bond, ex- of CarbonTracker, moves to RMI… Partners Group is hiring an investment leader of funds and co-investments for Blue Earth Capital… City Light Capital seeks a data scientist… Morgan Stanley Wealth Management is looking for an alternatives investment due diligence impact analyst. 

Toniic is hiring an events and education manager and other roles… ANDE is recruiting a senior program associate for its gender-focused programs and several other openings in Mexico, India and Brazil… Community Credit Lab is looking for a lending partnerships manager… Vamos Ventures is looking for two MBA summer associates in Los Angeles… Applications are open for the National Equity Atlas Fellows program.

Thank you for your impact.

– Jan. 10, 2022