1988 - 2006
I was born in San Francisco Children’s Hospital on May 5, 1988. I had a happy childhood growing up in San Francisco with my parents, Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor, and my three awesome siblings, Gus, Evi, and Henry.
I attended Marin Country Day School and SF University High School, and really have nothing but good things to say about both. I still see my three best friends from high school - Michael Schember, John Vrolyk, and Alex Berggruen - very regularly, and we’re all in our thirties.
I loved both math and sports from a young age and had a lot of support from my parents and community in pursuing both. I was very lucky in where and when I was born, the family and friends I was surrounded by, and the general cirumstances of my childhood.
2006 - 2011
I went to Harvard for undergrad. Arriving in August, 2006, I spent a fairly confused freshman year trying to figure out what to study and where to fit in socially. That summer, I decided to take a year off from school to get more perspective and remember why I was excited to go to college in the first place.
I spent the ‘07/’08 school year working for my mom at Beneficial State Bank, working for my dad at Farallon Capital Management, and traveling a ton (including long trips with my best friend Michael Schember and my brother Gus). I went back to college feeling much more prepared and excited to be there. I loved the final three years.
At Harvard, I majored in Applied Math (awesome), with a sub-specialty in economics (somewhat less awesome, but still interesting). To this day, I use concepts I learned in Joseph Blitzstein’s Statistics 110: Introduction to Probability and Leslie Valiant’s Applied Math 107: Graph Theory and Combinatorics regularly.
In a decision that I now find very frustrating, I only took one computer science course: David Malan’s famous CS 50: Intro to Computer Science. The course was great. Now that I program every day at work, I deeply regret not going deeper in CS when I had so much time to just learn.
I wrote my senior thesis - Third-Party Effects of Trade in Water Markets - under the amazing Professor John Briscoe. It was really an honor. I will forever remember, during a visit to his home after I had graduated, Professor Briscoe saying to me:
Remember, today we have God-like technology, medieval political systems, and still paleolithic man.
Professor Briscoe passed away in 2014 after an incredible career as a humanitarian and water expert for the World Bank and, simultaneously, a Harvard Professor.
I walked onto the Harvard Men’s Lacrosse Team as a freshman, and played for all four years. As my lacrosse bio corroborates, I didn’t go down in the athletic history books. I did, however, make good friends and was very thankful for the opportunity to exercise my brain and body beyond the classroom.
I had a “blocking group” of roommates whom I loved and am still close with, and more great friends in the Fox Club whom I also loved.
I had three summer jobs in college
- Lacrosse camp counselor
- Economics research assistant
- Investment banking intern
which left me having clearly identified three things I didn’t want to do after school. I took my first job at Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) on the Industry Analysis team because I wanted to do math and work on a societally relevant problem. I knew very little about energy at the time.
2011 - 2013
Advance Energy Economy
From June 2011 to August 2012, I worked at Advanced Energy Economy, a trade association for the clean energy industry that my Dad and venture capitalist/author/entrepreneur/genius Hemant Taneja founded together. I loved the energy and data parts of what we were doing, but found other parts of my job were not a fit.
I got frustrated with the compromise and message-tailoring we had to do in order to navigate an ecosystem of energy companies we were trying to recruit as members. On top of that, while AEE was genuinely mission-driven, I wanted to work more directly with and get to know the people the organization was supposed to help.
Probably the best experience I had at AEE was hiring for and managing the AEE Fellowship, an internship for eight awesome college students. They were extremely bright and enthusiastic, and I’m still in touch with some of them today.
The 2Seeds Network
As mentioned earlier, I wanted to work on issues that affected people in a more visible, direct way. At this point in my life, I was obsessed with books about soldiers (The Heart and the Fist), public health workers (Mountains Beyond Mountains), teachers (One Day, All Children), aid workers (The Blue Sweater), and all people who served through personal contact with the people they were serving. I still don’t think I’ve accomplished anything remotely comparable to the authors above, but I was ready for my first attempt.
One of my best friends from Harvard, Sam Bonsey, co-founded an organization called The 2Seeds Network which embodied this sort of impact-with-personal-connection ethos. Sam knew that I was questioning my path and he strategically invited me to come to the 2Seeds annual meeting. I was hooked. I joined the organization as a volunteer in Class 3 and moved to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
I spent a year, from August 2012 - August 2013, volunteering for 2Seeds. My project was a partnership with the Kariakoo Market, Tanzania’s largest agricultural market, in which we attempted to make the wholesale prices for farmers products (mostly vegetables) avaialable over a text messaging app. I lived, worked, traveled, and spent nearly every waking moment with my project partner, Alena Johnson. The year was immensely fun and we occasionally blogged about it here.
2013 - 2015
In Tanzania, three things happened that solidified my decision to work on clean energy and climate:
- I saw the devastating impacts of floods and droughts on farmers and anyone else who depends on the natural world (which, indirectly, is everyone).
- I realized that I wanted to live in the United States in the long term.
- I missed doing math.
In order to launch myself into clean energy, which I viewed at the time as an engineer-dominated industry (I’m not so sure now), I decided to go back to school and get a graduate engineering degree. One of my long-time mentors, Rob Urstein, directed me to Stanford’s Institute for Computational and Mathematical Sciences (ICME) and I applied and got in.
My two years in grad school were two of the best years of my life. I took challenging, fascinating courses in applied math and energy by day and hung out with a group of friends whom I love and still see all the time every night. I took several great classes, probably the most impactful of which were Reza Zadeh’s Graph Theory, Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning, and Cathy Zoi and Stefan Heck’s Energy Transformation Collaborative.
Life at Stanford was plush. I lived a 45-minute drive away from my parents, and saw them all the time. I was a Co-President of the Stanford Energy Club (along-side long-time club stalwart Madhur Boloor), which basically meant we had a budget to organize events with our friends and invite anyone from the industry that we wanted. I ran two marathons and got to play for a year on the undergraduate lacrosse team with a group of guys who were nice enough to adopt a 27-year-old and make me feel like part of the team. I took awesome trips to India, Colombia, and all over the US with friends from school. I had ample time to exercise in the various Arrillaga Family gyms and just to hang out with my best friends and housemates Toby Espinosa, Shea Hughes, and Brock Petersen. It was a dream.
2015 - Present
During my second year of grad school, I decided that I wanted to work in clean energy in…
- an engineering role
- that would give me some ability to impact strategy
- that had the potential for large-scale impact
When I read the CEO of NRG Energy, David Crane’s, famous/infamous letter to the shareholders about the urgency of building a great clean energy company, I was hooked.
At the time, NRG had an internal innovation team that was piloting new products for the company, which it called Station A. Station A was working on everything from controls software to make air conditioning units support the grid to designing home battery systems packaged in aesthetically-pleasing enclosures. Awesomely, they were doing it in an office/lab inside the oldest power plant in San Francisco, the Potrero Generating Station, which NRG owned at the time (which had been “Power Station A,” hence the name).
After meeting David and Robyn Beavers (then the Head of Station A) at events at Stanford, I was sold. I resolved to find a way to join the team and I did in April 2015 as an Engineering and Product Analyst, working part-time while I was still in school. I became full-time in early July 2015, about a week before my good friends Adam Medoff and Manos Saratsis joined.
Over the next three years NRG went through cost-cutting that necesitated a more singular focus at Station A. At the same time, we learned from our interactions with the other teams at NRG that the highest value thing we could give them was software and data to help them find new customers. So we focused on software. The writing of this software enjoyed a massive acceleration when Jeremy Lucas, a deeply experienced software engineer, joined in 2016, and taught Manos and me how to actually program properly.
In August 2018, Station A spun out of NRG and launched as an independent software company, with my good friend Kevin Berkemeyer taking the helm as CEO. We’re now a four-person startup (we’re hiring!) working out of a WeWork in downtown San Francisco. It’s early, but we’re building a market network where clean energy developers and energy consumers can connect to sell/buy clean energy solutions like rooftop solar, energy efficiency retrofits, and battery energy storage.
You can read the story on the Station A blog.