Climate

This 'draft' aims to turn tech workers into climate warriors

Climate Draft is looking for software engineers who want to apply their skills to helping solve the climate crisis.

Firefighters battle flames from the Mosquito Fire using a hose as trees burn in the background.

“We’ve created this pool of awesome people who have all raised their hands, self-selected and said, ‘I care about climate,’” Jonathan Strauss told Protocol.

Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images

The climate revolution is here. It just needs recruits.

That’s according to Jonathan Strauss, co-founder and CEO of Climate Draft, which today announced the next round of what it calls its “draft,” a process by which it connects top tech talent with fast-growing climate startups.

“We’ve created this pool of awesome people who have all raised their hands, self-selected and said, ‘I care about climate,’” Strauss told Protocol.

The first draft, which Strauss and a group of volunteers led last October, was an invite-only network of participants that he said spans approximately 140 companies, 30 venture capital firms and 200 senior leaders from companies like Google, Apple and Meta, as well as an over 1,000 person waitlist.

Those who were selected were then connected with young climate tech companies looking for information exchange, angel investments, advisory relationships and, in some cases, executives to hire.

For this second round, Climate Draft is aiming to expand its reach while still keeping the exclusive nature of its first draft. Beginning today, anyone can create a profile in the Climate Draft directory that makes them discoverable to member companies as potential advisers, angel investors, customers, partners or potential hires. Its next invite-only draft, which will target software engineers, will take place next month. Anyone with a software engineering background is welcome to apply.

The companies announced as Climate Draft members include climate tech firms Charm Industrial, Crusoe Energy, Patch, Arcadia and Living Carbon, as well as VC firms like Lowercarbon Capital and MCJ Collective. (Lowercarbon’s Chris Sacca, along with his wife Crystal Sacca, are investors in Climate Draft.) Members sponsor the free programming offered by Climate Draft and, in return, get access to the startup’s talent network.

“It’s staggering how much has to be built and rebuilt to hit the climate targets that we need to hit, even just within carbon removal,” said Peter Reinhardt, CEO and co-founder of Charm, a bio-oil based carbon removal company. “Things like Climate Draft that help people transition into a brand-new industry are really important.”

Charm recruited its head of marketing development and policy, Nora Cohen Brown, from the first draft, and Reinhardt said the organization has “become a great source of candidates for us overall.”

Sophie Purdom (co-founder of CTVC), Diego Saez Gil (co-founder and CEO of Pachama), Andy Ruben (founder and executive chair of Trove) and Maddie Hall (co-founder and CEO of Living Carbon) Sophie Purdom (co-founder of CTVC), Diego Saez Gil (co-founder and CEO of Pachama), Andy Ruben (founder and executive chair of Trove) and Maddie Hall (co-founder and CEO of Living Carbon) sit on a panel. Photo: Jonathan Strauss

The inaugural draft in 2021 resulted in at least a dozen full-time hires and over 800 double-opt-in intros, said Strauss. The roster of draftees included former Meta CTO Mike Schroepfer, who made at least two angel investments, neither public, in companies he connected with through the draft. (“Schrep,” as he’s known, stepped down from his role at Meta last year to devote his energies toward battling the climate crisis.)

One participant, Alan Wells, then an executive at self-driving car company Cruise, originally signed on in search of angel investing opportunities only to announce a few months later that he would be joining electric bike startup Zoomo as its vice president of product.

Climate Draft “helped convince me there's no better time than now to put my expertise to work on decarbonizing urban logistics,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

Other participants included Cassandra Xia, a former Google software engineer who became the head of engineering at climate fintech startup Evergrow; she left when she realized that “Google will be just fine” without her, while the impact she could make in climate tech is “much greater.”

The draft recruits through its own network for senior executives, typically at the VP level and above. “We’re fortunate to have a very high-quality network of VCs and execs that are referring and endorsing people,” Strauss said.

“The way that we’re most additive to this industry is to reach people who aren’t yet ready to make the leap,” he said, like a tech executive who is saying to themselves, “‘I’m personally concerned [about the climate crisis], but I’m not yet convinced this is something I should be doing full time.’”

For that person, Climate Draft is there to “accelerate that process” and push them toward making the leap.

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