Muddy Dirt: General Catalyst Hires Rising MIT Star to Help Move it into Nano, Energy
The Muddy Charles Pub is MIT’s legendary watering hole. Perched in a corner of the Walker Memorial building looking out over Memorial Drive, it’s bare bones to say the least. Think plain wooden tables, industrial carpet, and a spartan bar off to one side. But the place buzzes with campus news and the entrepreneurial spirit, as students, former students, and outsiders (including folks from Harvard) pop in and out through its doors—as well as through the big windows that run down to the floor. Many an area company or deal has been hatched over pitchers of beer at the Muddy.
Last Friday night was no different. I went there to meet with Dave Danielson, now our newest Xconomist. Dave is a minor Muddy legend. Just finishing his PhD in materials science, he served last year as chair of the Muddy board, on which he still sits. He’s also known around town as Mr. Energy. Four years ago, Dave founded the MIT Energy Club, which has quickly become a powerful catalyst for energy awareness and deal-making. Outgoing with a quick laugh, he pretty much knows anybody and everybody connected with the local energy scene—not just on campus but around the state. As we drank Sam Adams Summer Ale on a warm night, Dave was especially effusive, because he had just been signed to become a senior associate at General Catalyst once he completes his doctorate in November.
It’s a shrewd move by GC, which is known best for its IT deals. These include the travel site Kayak.com and Eons, the portal for the over-50 crowd created by Jeff Taylor of Monster.com fame, where General Catalyst is a partner with Sequoia. GC has recently invested in a handful of energy deals as well—among them Mascoma and Stion. But these have been few and far between—and usually in the B round. Danielson is being tapped to look into earlier-stage opportunities, in both energy and nanotechnology, which relates to his materials science expertise. He is stoked, and the Muddy might be a great place for him to get started. “I think I could do a half-dozen deals right here at the Muddy in the next six months,” he laughs.