Recent Posts:

Fascinating trends and provocative questions

Rob Day: July 30, 2008, 7:47 AM
With a column title like that, I'm sure to under-deliver, but here goes... A couple of recent trends I've noticed that are worth highlighting: 1. "Super angels" seem to be taking an increasingly important role in the world of cleantech venture capital these days. By using this term, I mean family offices, foundations, etc., so "angels" is kind of a wrong term, but the point is non-traditional institutional investors representing high net worth and/or mission-oriented investors who may or may not have the same IRR goals as traditional VCs. This is potentially a really healthy development in light of the capital gaps we've noted before, but it's also simply noteworthy just how...

No solar exits?  No problem!

Rob Day: July 24, 2008, 3:59 AM
Are you frustrated that the current macroeconomic mess, and the resultant slamming shut of the IPO window, has denied you the ability to invest in some of the bigger-name privately-held solar companies? Are you skeptical or optimistic about the prospects for a wave of solar exits over the next 18 months? Well then, it's your lucky day. As a proxy, I've talked InTrade into establishing a new market in the IPO prospects of four high-profile solar startups. Now you can go and purchase or sell contracts that pay out if Ausra, Miasole, Nanosolar, and/or Optisolar IPO by December 2009. Just follow the link above to see -- you'll need to open and fund an InTrade account if you want to...

Odds and ends

Rob Day: July 23, 2008, 5:24 AM
First, some deals:
  • Li ion battery startup ActaCell has raised a $5.8mm Series A, led by DFJ Mercury and including Google.org, Applied Ventures, and Good Energies. Expect the energy storage sector to get even more attention going forward as some anticipated exits come to fruition, and as the political campaigning season and other developments focus attention on the transportation applications for batteries.
  • Performance Plants, a developer of agrotech innovations with...

The seed stage capital gap (or: Why I learned to stop worrying and love the national labs)

Rob Day: July 22, 2008, 5:21 PM
One thing entrepreneurs commonly get frustrated about when dealing with early stage VCs, particularly in cleantech, is when the VCs tell them "we like the idea, but it's still too early." After all, it's "early stage" venture capital, so how can an entrepreneur's idea be "too early"? What gets wrapped up in this, as well, is the fact that many entrepreneurs and researchers are working on some truly impressive ideas, but with long development paths ahead of them.  Fusion, geothermal, even cold fusion (yes, cold fusion) are areas where I myself have seen some really intriguing entrepreneurial efforts -- efforts that, as an environmentalist, I could get excited about.  But as an...

More Q2 numbers

Rob Day: July 21, 2008, 5:16 AM
PWC Moneytree/ NVCA and VentureSource both released their Q2 venture capital tallies over the weekend.  The picture they presented matched well with the results that came out earlier from the Cleantech Group and Greentech Media. As always, these groups (because they're looking broadly across sectors and not just looking to be inclusive about what's clean or green tech) come up with lower numbers than Cleantech Group or GTM.  The Moneytree total for U.S. cleantech VC in Q2 was $883.6mm into 65 deals (note: link opens pdf), and the VentureSource total was $817mm into 32 deals for the "energy and utilities" sector -- including $650mm in 26 renewable energy deals -- versus the...

We got BOTH kinds of cleantech here:  Solar and PV

Rob Day: July 18, 2008, 8:42 AM
Seems like it's all solar, all the time in cleantech VC land these days.  Here are the deals and tidbits from this week:

Opening up a time capsule from 1981

Rob Day: July 14, 2008, 3:45 AM
I recently took ownership of a copy of the 1981 National Geographic special report on energy: "Facing up to the problem, getting down to solutions." It's turned out to be a fascinating look back at what's changed -- and more frequently, what hasn't changed -- over the past 27 years. The magazine focuses on energy supply issues, and while climate change is mentioned in passing, it's the high cost of energy that's "the problem" referenced in the report's title. Most striking is how much space is devoted to the very same technology development efforts that we're still working on today. On the one hand, it's encouraging to see the clear progress that's been made in the maturation...