James Murdoch Plans Big Bets on Sustainable Businesses

James Murdoch Plans Big Bets on Sustainable Businesses


In 2006, Mr. Murdoch announced a successful campaign to make Sky carbon-neutral, a decision that caught many in the business community off guard. But Mr. Murdoch was serious, announcing initiatives like converting much of its power use to draw from renewable energy and a campaign to help eliminate plastic waste.

“I strongly believe, and I think James does as well, that if business is strongly disconnected from the environment, that’s wrong,” Jeremy Darroch, then Sky’s chief financial officer and now its chief executive, said in an interview.

Nearly a decade later, as the chief executive of 21st Century Fox, Mr. Murdoch helped create a joint venture with the National Geographic Society that covered not just the National Geographic cable channels that the two teamed up on, but also the society’s famous yellow-bordered magazine and digital properties. The deal not only gave Fox a trove of content, it poured $725 million into the society’s endowment — a windfall that enabled it to double its investments in scientific research, according to Gary Knell, the society’s president.

Mr. Murdoch says climate investments will be a focus of his new investment firm, Lupa Systems, which has also put money into the digital media company Vice and the comic book publisher Artists, Writers and Artisans.

Two of the deals being announced Wednesday, both in sustainable-packaging start-ups, are among Lupa Systems’ first green investments.

Lupa Systems is helping lead a $4 million fund-raising round for Notpla, whose Ooho edible food pouch is made from seaweed and resembles a laundry detergent pod. Ooho has already made appearances at last year’s London Marathon and, somewhat more memorably, as the delivery system for Glenlivet-based cocktails.

Pierre Paslier, one of Notpla’s founders, said that bringing Mr. Murdoch on board as an investor should allow the company to tap his network and help it enter the American market.



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