Lee H. Stein links capital to ideas for a better world

Attorney Lee H. Stein is chief executive officer of Prize Capital LLC. He founded the company to provide capital to environmental startups worldwide while reducing risk for investors. It is currently in the due diligence phase for a proposed $10 million Algae Fuel Prize focused on spurring the development of radically advanced fuels from algae.

In 2000, Stein formed Virtual Group LLC, a private holding company, to focus on early stage technologies. He previously founded First Virtual Holdings Inc. in 1993, which launched the world’s first Internet Payment System in 1994, went public in 1996, and was acquired by DoubleClick.

Stein received his juris doctorate from Villanova University School of Law and his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Syracuse University. After law school, Stein served as a tax specialist with Coopers & Lybrand. He was also an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles.

Stein is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and forums, including the World Bank, MIT Forum and Oxford University. He is active in civic and philanthropic organizations, including UCSD, Scripps Health Foundation, California Energy Commission and the San Diego Stadium Authority. He and his wife, June, have three children.

What brought you to Del Mar?

My wife and I have been married for 33 years. We met in college and traveled to California for vacation before heading to graduate school and careers in law and accounting. When we arrived in Del Mar, we knew we had found home. It just took us a few years to get back.

What makes this town special to you?

We love the small scale and its personality — quality and variety, yet simplicity.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the city?

While Del Mar views itself as a small town, it is a rare gem on the planet Earth and could set an example on all things environmental. It could create one of the great linear parks in the world along the railroad tracks. Instead of traditional development at the fairgrounds, create a renewable energy demonstration project. Embrace new technologies to preserve the classic nature of the village.

Who or what inspires you?

My wife, June.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Jesus Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Moses, Archbishop Stephen Langton. (I’d also like to invite my great-grandfather.)

Tell us about what you are currently reading.

“Clean Energy Common Sense: An American Call to Action” by Francis Beinecke.

What is your most-prized possession?

I do not really value possessions.

What do you do for fun?

I really enjoy visiting the rain forests of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. Being able to hike and see scarlet macaws, monkeys and toucans in an area of intense biodiversity is a visit to the Garden of Eden. We travel there frequently.

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

It is still a work in process.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

You are the CEO of your own life. And ... treat every moment as precious.