Rick Klau

Energetic mind: Alum moves from Google Ventures to his own climate tech business

May 6, 2024


Rick Klau’s new climate friendly startup is just the latest in a notable line of career achievements in technology for the Richmond Law alum.

Klau’s credentials include serving as California’s chief technology innovation officer and a senior operating partner at Google Ventures. He is currently the co-founder and CEO of Onsemble, which assists homeowners in transitioning from gas to electric appliances for a cleaner energy future.

Klau registered the domain name for Onsemble in 1998. He liked that it was short, pronounceable, and played on the idea of a music ensemble. For some outside perspective, he asked ChatGPT what the name might mean in the context of home energy. The AI tool responded: “This could refer to a group of appliances or devices that are connected or work together to manage energy use in the home.”

“That’s exactly it,” Klau said, recognizing the perfect articulation of the startup’s mission.

Klau’s interest in technology traces back to his college days and experimenting with an early campuswide network. When considering law schools in 1993, he was impressed that Richmond was the first to require students to have laptops.

The school “believed that future lawyers should be fluent in the nascent technology,” he said. “I was so enamored of technology as an enabler of my research and study that I wanted to go where they understood that technology was important.”

Klau was among the co-founders and the first editor-in-chief of the Richmond Journal of Law and Technology, the world’s first law review published exclusively online. The journal recently celebrated its 30th volume.

After graduating in 1996, “I thought I would practice law, but I was so focused and obsessed with technology that developing the journal became a way to engage both interests,” he said. “What I learned in building the journal was that I loved creating something new.”

Klau enjoys returning to campus to share his story with law and undergraduate students.

“When I reflect on 30 years ago, there weren’t many examples of seeing a nonpracticing lawyer. I like to shine a light on what a possible alternative path looks like,” he said.

“Richmond encouraged me to think about things that didn’t exist yet, to imagine what might be and then go build it.”