Bill Gates Is Not The Next CEO Of Microsoft, But His VC Investments Are Picking Up

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Bill Gates may be one of the world’s most famous philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and guest editors,  but could he be adding venture capitalist to the list? Over the past few years it seems that Gates has, in fact, been increasing his investment in startups.

Though not as active in venture capital as otherless-billionaire-y, technology billionaires, Gates is nonetheless putting together a growing stable of technology companies. And the pace of his investment is steadily increasing, according to the data in CrunchBase.

Last year, Gates was involved in at least six new and follow-on investments in venture-backed companies, including a commitment to the energy storage technology developer Aquion, in a financing which wrapped up earlier this year. That’s up from four new and follow-on commitments in 2012, and three in 2011, the CrunchBase data indicated.

In addition to Aquion, the Gates portfolio also includes other companies tackling the energy problem, like the compressed air energy storage company, LightSail Energy, and the battery technology developer Ambri. And those aren’t Gates’ only sustainable investments.

 Varentec, an electricity monitoring and management technology developer, is another cleantech pony in the Gates stable. Even more ambitiously, Gates is backing TerraPower, the nuclear reactor developer spun out from Intellectual Ventures, alongside former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer and Intellectual Ventures founder and chief executive, Nathan Myrhvold.

Intellectual Ventures is behind two other Gates investments. Both Evolv Technologies and Kymeta came from Myrhvold’s IP monetization factory.

Rounding out some of the newest investments in the portfolio of the man from Medina, Wash. are three healthcare investments focused on computational drug design and targeted cancer therapies: Nimbus Discovery and its development partner Schrodinger Inc. are both focused on computational drug design, while Foundation Medicine develops diagnostic tests based on gene sequencing to identify personalized cancer therapies for patients.

All of these investments hew pretty closely with some of Gates’ expressed goals of improving healthcare, or reducing carbon emissions in an effort to combat the effects of global warming, but he’s also an investor in NEOS GeoSolutions, a company which sells technology and services to improve the operations of oil and gas and mining companies.

Needless to say, Bill Gates did not respond to a request for comment for this post.

Photo via The Henry Ford and OnInnovation