Firm: Bellwether Solutions, Holbrook, NY
Background: Business partner of Josh Barro, at Business Insider
Key figures: John Wood, president and CEO of Bellwether, and Jim Azar of Manchester by the Sea.
Notable company projects: Welling, as the first integrated pilot-scale reactor to be approved for commercialization. Also HPDI-H, a technology developed to produce hydrogen.
Biden family’s profile: The line between government and private enterprises is blurry at Bellwether. Hunter, the former US vice president’s eldest son, first started working at the company in 2007, after graduating from law school. He spent his first two years working with Josh Barro of Business Insider, who founded Bellwether in 2015. Six years later, the youngest of Hunter’s five children, Audrey, graduated from Yale Law School and started working at Bellwether as well. (She will spend the next two years studying at Harvard Medical School.) “She’s really going to kick ass as a lawyer and as a young woman,” said Hunter in 2017. His two younger children, Jack and Natalie, continue to work there as well.
Angus T. Daly, President and CEO of Bellwether, said he’s been impressed with Boone’s entrepreneurial spirit. “Hunter has added to the company that the family tree behind our company is a lot bigger than it was,” he said. “I’d be pretty surprised if they don’t continue to have some influence at the top.”
Why he matters: Biden was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2008, and his dad took the White House in 2009. In 2015, his brother, former Vice President Joe Biden, awarded Boone the community leadership award from Inner Cities Education Action Network.
“If you’re a civil engineer, a mechanical engineer, and you want to be a public servant, and you want to take your skill set and create things that make a difference, you’ve got to go to where the money is,” Biden told Tech Insider. “And in this case, the money is the energy sector. What’s the most profitable piece of business around the world now? It’s energy.”
How it all started: Biden and his team originally focused on the efficiency of hydrogen fuel cells, a form of electrically powered fuel. The pair completed a hydrogen economy assessment project for the United Nations in 2014, which found that fuel cells were the most economical energy source, as well as one of the fastest and safest routes to zero emissions. They then invested their time and money in a battery company called Joule Unlimited, acquired in 2018.
“The reason we were not looking to buy a company today, for us, is that we’re still working with a hydrogen economy, and we are also working with a battery technology,” said Biden in 2017. “We’re very active and very engaged, and we are still working on those two things. We are all about autonomy and still being involved in electrofuels, but not in an acquired state.”
Despite his background in the fossil fuels industry, Cheney has maintained an open mind toward alternative power sources in the past.
“There are some good companies that are developing fuel cells. I’m open to the fact that I believe that you could have a material company that builds fuel cells and that’s their business. I’m sure they’re all looking at that,” he said in 2017.
Why you should care: Keeping pace with China’s emergence as the world’s largest power and the result of long-term political and economical changes, the American energy sector, as well as its core workforce, is transitioning to continue supporting the needs of the US economy.