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Ray Lane's cleantech 'success stories'

November 1, 2012: 1:21 PM ET

Untruth in Silicon Valley advertising.

FORTUNE -- Venture capitalist Ray Lane will speak later this month at The Commonwealth Club of California, on how cleantech investing remains viable in the face of recent failures and the (likely) disappearance of federal funding.

Here is part of the email marketing pitch:

As a managing partner at Kleiner Perkins, America's premier venture capital firm, Lane has sponsored several start-ups in clean alternative energy. Some of his success stories include GreatPoint Energy (coal to gas conversion), Fisker Automotive (plug-in hybrid car), Th!nk NA (electric car), and Luca Technologies (biologically enhanced gas recovery from fossilized hydrocarbons).

Wow, impressive bio. So impressive that whoever wrote it neglected to mention that Lane isn't actually a partner on KP's new fund, or that he does serve as chairman of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) -- a role akin to quarterbacking the Cleveland Browns.

But those are just nit-picky omissions. The issue of "success stories," however, is a bit more serious. At least for anyone who's ever felt that dictionaries have value.

Here's a quick rundown of four companies cited:

  • Th!nk NA: This company has become insolvent a couple times over, and KP's website no longer even lists it as a portfolio company.
  • Luca Technologies: The company filed for an IPO in June 2011, and then was forced to pull it this past April. At the time, its operating revenue had fallen three straight years to just around $1 million in 2011. Moreover, in May the company announced that it was discontinuing a three-year long pursuit of a Bureau of Land Management permit for nutrient injection, and that it would seek other avenues to deploy its technology. So far, no new announcements -- save for a pilot partnership aimed at cleaning up water near hydraulic fracking sites.
  • Fisker: The electric car maker may ultimately become a legitimate rival to Tesla (TSLA), but it certainly hasn't happened yet. In fact, most of its recent press has been about how its cars have an inconvenient tendency to catch fire (including several that were submerged by Hurricane Sandy). At very best this is a possible success story.
  • GreatPoint Energy: This one also remains in the "wait-and-see" category, but even KP has unofficially expressed its doubts. When the company sought out new funding earlier this year, its existing VCs reportedly demurred (it later signed a China joint venture and virtually abandoned its original domestic plans). KP retains its equity position, but has not yet generated any returns.

The Commonwealth Club has not yet announced who will be interviewing Lane on stage. If they're in a pinch, I'm available...

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Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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