GreenFuel Announces CEO: One Step Left in Metcalfe’s Seven-Step Recovery Plan—Money

GreenFuel Technologies, the algae farming startup headed by Polaris Venture Partners (a major investor in the company) general partner Bob Metcalfe on an interim basis since last June, finally got its CEO, the Cambridge, MA-based company announced today. The new top executive, who won’t start until mid-July and was not available for direct comment, is former Dow Chemical executive Simon Upfill-Brown (there’s got to be a pun here combining GreenFuel/Upfill-Brown, but at my editor’s urging, I’m not going to try for it).

“Algae has come of age. And I’m enthusiastic about joining GreenFuel’s formidable team,” Upfill-Brown, a native of South Africa and a chemist by training, said in a statement. “By developing and scaling our algae farming technologies, we aim to play a huge role in solving the world’s energy problems: mitigating CO2 emissions and producing renewable fuels, while adding to feed and food supplies rather than reducing them.”

Upfill-Brown, who will also join GreenFuel’s board, served as the longtime CEO of Haltermann Custom Processing, a Houston provider of specialty chemical manufacturing services that was bought by Dow Chemical in 2001. He served as General Manager of Dow Haltermann until 2008, when the unit, with some $230 million in annual sales, was spun out from its parent. Among other activities, Haltermann works in biodiesel, for which GreenFuel plans to be an algae oil feedstock supplier.

As we reported last summer, GreenFuel was forced to close its algae bioreactor systems, which seek to convert carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel plants into clean-burning algae-based biofuels, after more algae was produced than the firm could properly process. The setback led to the layoff of half of GreenFuel’s staff as well as the removal of CEO Cary Bullock, who remained as a top sales executive.

Enter Metcalfe, who has guided GreenFuel to string of recent successes. In March, Xconomy broke the news the company had won a contract worth up to $92 million to build an algae-based fuel plant in Europe. And last month came word that the firm had collected $13.9 million in funding from inside investors—including Polaris, Access Private Equity, and Draper Fisher Jurvetson—in an extension of its Series B round.

Last July, shortly after he took the reins, Metcalfe issued a seven-step plan for GreenFuel’s recovery. The hiring of a new CEO leaves only one step in his plan unmet, the completion of a Series C financing round.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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