Why Billionaire Paul Allen Backed Pro-Nuclear Power Film Pandora’s Promise

(…snip…) It took four years for Stone to make the film. He got initial funding from technology types in Silicon Valley. Ray Rothrock {pictured left}, a venture capitalist at Venrock (who majored in nuclear engineering in college), told me he got a call from Jim Swartz, founder of venture firm Accel Partners, and serial entrepreneur Steve Kirsch (founder of Infoseek) asking him to support the documentary. Rothrock met with director Stone to get a sense of his goals, and Rothrock, Swartz and Kirsch seed funded the film two and a half years ago with enough money to make a trailer. Then they hosted a fundraiser in Silicon Valley and raised funds that allowed Stone to complete the film. The budget for the project, according to Stone, was “over $1 million.”

One of the people who watched the screening of Pandora’s Promise at Sundance this year was Bonnie Benjamin-Phariss, director of Paul Allen’s Vulcan Films division. She thought it was so well done that she showed it to Paul Allen, who, after several months of “vetting every detail in the film,” according to Stone, decided to finance a big chunk of the cost of distribution. Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, who is president and CEO of Vulcan Inc., the investment firm she and her brother cofounded, is backing the film as well. UK billionaire Sir Richard Branson also came in as an executive producer after the film was complete. Branson’s representative did not respond to a request for a comment.

A common aim for Stone, Allen and Rothrock is to spark a dialogue. “The goal of this movie is to start a conversation that we are not having as a nation,” explained Rothrock, adding that there has been a ton of innovation in nuclear power technology. (…snip…)

This is an excerpt from a Forbes article by Kerry A. Dolan. I found Dolan’s article because I follow Venrock partner Ray Rothrock on Twitter. From the article, here’s the summary of the heavy hitters who backed Pandora’s Promise – who have I failed to include?

  • Paul Allen
  • Jody Allen
  • Richard Branson
  • Steve Kirsch
  • Ray Rothrock
  • Jim Schwartz

Greenpeace, FOE, Sierra Club, UCS et al will do everything they can to prevent this conversation from starting, so please do what you can to stimulate discussion in your real/virtual community.

3 thoughts on “Why Billionaire Paul Allen Backed Pro-Nuclear Power Film Pandora’s Promise

  1. I was especially interested in the Wall Street Journal photo of electrical wiring in Brazil. Evidently their electrical code is somewhat less stringent than ours.

    In the list of the “heavy hitters” who financed the film and its distribution, it looks as though the Koch brothers have been omitted.

  2. Yes, very different, and their coal businesses would be impacted if nuclear power expanded.

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