July 18, 2011 / 8:30 PM / 8 years ago

Former First Solar chief launches $300 mln VC firm

LOS ANGELES, July 18 (Reuters) - Former First Solar Inc (FSLR.O) Chief Executive Mike Ahearn launched a $300 million venture capital firm on Monday that will invest in startups in the energy, water, agriculture and waste industries.

True North Venture Partners has offices in Chicago and Phoenix and will be fully staffed by the end of 2011, the company said.

True North said typical investments will range from $100,000 to $25 million.

“We are focused on sectors where the global problems are pressing, the need for disruptive innovation is great and the challenges faced by early-stage entrepreneurs and investors are particularly daunting,” Ahearn said in a statement.

Ahearn co-founded First Solar, the world’s most valuable solar company, and served as its CEO from 2000 until 2009.

Before that, he was president of equity investment firm JWMA Partners LLC, which he founded with John Walton, the son of Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) founder Sam Walton. JWMA was formerly called True North Partners LLC and was the majority shareholder in First Solar at the time of its initial public offering in 2006.

Ahearn’s son, Matthew Ahearn, is listed as a founding member of True North Venture Partners on its website. (Reporting by Nichola Groom. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

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