Carbon Direct caps $60M round to coach companies on cutting

When March 2020 rolled around, Jonathan Goldberg figured his new startup, Carbon Direct, was in for a long slog. The COVID pandemic was beginning to upend the world, and it suddenly didn’t seem like a great time to launch a business.

“I thought we would have no clients,” he said.

He needn’t have worried. Microsoft, which was looking for a company to advise it on its carbon reduction plans, came knocking, and Goldberg had a team with a strong science background ready to go.

Microsoft itself has “a phenomenal team” working on decarbonization, Goldberg said. “They also have a commitment to science that is pretty awesome to see. So they really wanted to understand why carbon removal is needed from a macro perspective, and then think through applying it to their own specific company requirements.”

If Carbon Direct sounds like a carbon consultancy, that’s not far off. But Goldberg said that description doesn’t adequately reflect the totality of the business. First, he said the company doesn’t bill hourly. Second, he added, “We want to educate people; we’re not a black box. It’s not like you click on these seven buttons and there, your carbon goes away. It doesn’t work like that. We want to show people why this is important.”

To grow its client base and team, Carbon Direct tells TechCrunch that it secured $60 million last week in an equity deal led by Decarbonization Partners — a joint venture between BlackRock and Singapore’s Temasek holding company — and Quantum Energy Partners.

BlackRock in particular has a reputation for saying one thing and doing another on climate. The $100 billion asset manager says it is “committed to an inclusive, equitable, and prosperous transition” to net-zero emissions, yet BlackRock’s finances remain linked to coal, and the firm expects to support fewer climate-geared shareholder proposals in 2022 than in the prior year. BlackRock called such proposals overly “prescriptive” in a May note to investors.