Recent Posts:

A quick question about smart grid…

Rob Day: January 26, 2009, 4:53 PM
...What is it? Now that the subsector of "smart grid" is getting more popular and thus getting talked about more and more, it seems a good time to point out a couple of quick things about the concept: 1.  "Grid automation" would be a better term for the category. Applying IT and communications to the electricity transmission and distribution system, for the purpose of automating functions like notifications, meter reading, and eventually automated demand response, energy efficiency and grid balancing. 2.  It doesn't end at the meter. Calling it "smart grid" makes it sound like it's really all about the transmission and distribution system only.  But given the list of...

In defense of Vinod

Rob Day: January 25, 2009, 1:43 PM
During several discussions I've had with industry observers and fellow venture investors over the past few weeks, the topic of biofuels have come up, and those I've spoken with have mentioned "Vinod's bad bet" on ethanol.  Their point being that Khosla Ventures and Vinod Khosla himself placed a number of different ethanol bets and then publicly backed that sector, which is now seen as being somewhat out of favor. But that conclusion is probably off-base, in my opinion. First of all, most of Khosla Ventures' biofuels investments haven't been first-generation (ie: corn- and sugar-based) ethanol, which is the specific subsector that is out of favor right now.  The jury is still...

New Hickory?

Rob Day: January 20, 2009, 4:46 AM
What a historic day! Most pundits seem intent upon comparing Obama's likely presidential role to that of past presidents like Kennedy, FDR, and Lincoln. My guess, however, it that it will be much more like that of Andrew Jackson -- in form, at least, if not in terms of specific policies.  Jackson was really the first president to effectively use the powerful tool of public opinion (as confirmed by the voters) to lend critical support to policies of his that were unpopular in the Senate.  He also was pragmatic about shifting allegiances with legislative leaders to get whatever results he thought were necessary for the country.  It is in these two ways in particular that I...

Cleantech Investing First Blog Post

Matthew Weinberg: January 19, 2009, 5:00 AM

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The view from the Valley

Rob Day: January 14, 2009, 7:37 PM
Spent the entire day driving up and down Sand Hill Road today, catching up with west coast investors I hadn't seen in quite a while, and it was a pretty informative (and extremely long and tiring) day. I'd been told by Brian Fan, the Senior Director of Research at the Cleantech Group (he pulls together all their deal tallies), that "the starting point on valuation right now is 50% of the valuation of the last round."  Provocative stuff.  However, I suspect that says more about the "Valley Valuation" inflation that had been happening in '07-'08 in a couple of high profile sectors, rather than a dramatic valuation reset across the board.  Basically, that may be true in solar, and...

Not quite a screeching halt…

Rob Day: January 8, 2009, 7:10 AM
...but a pretty big drop-off nonetheless. As we've discussed ad nauseam here on this site, every tracker has a different tally for cleantech venture capital dollars and deals, for a wide range of geographic, definitional, and methodological reasons.  But it's still really useful to be able to be able to compare one tracker's quarterly tallies against their own earlier results, to get a good sense of overall market trajectories. The Cleantech Group released preliminary Q4 figures this week, which are largely consistent with Eric Wesoff's tally that came out a few days back.  Here's the key part: Q3:  158 deals totaling $2.7B. Q4:  99 deals totaling $1.7B. The...

An article you should read

Rob Day: January 6, 2009, 3:29 PM
One of the things that's so powerful about the energy and water and resource challenges we face are that they touch everyone's lives on many levels:  As individuals, as communities, as countries, and as a world.  And another powerful fact about these challenges is that we have been now wrestling with them for some time, without making good progress. In energy in particular, I am constantly hearing about (and learning from) the experiences of those who have been thinking about these issues for a long time.  So many good ideas yet to be executed on.  So much debate recycled from previous debates, without drawing the lessons from what had worked before and what had not.  And so...