Recent Posts:

Judgment calls

Rob Day: April 21, 2009, 4:10 PM
My last post seems to have set off some alarm bells for the various market analysts putting out cleantech venture capital tallies, since I heard from most of them today at some point...  For the record, my intent wasn't to question anyone's methodologies, much less competence! But you can understand why these professionals take these things seriously, since their job is to be as accurate as possible.  Unfortunately, there was like an 6x delta between the high and low reported totals this past quarter, so it's tough not to want to ask tough questions. To the strong credit of guys like Eric Wesoff (GTM), Brian Fan (Cleantech Group) and Adam Wade (Dow Jones), they welcomed my...

Q1 cleantech venture numbers:  What happened??

Rob Day: April 20, 2009, 5:00 PM
So just a couple of weeks ago, I posted an analysis of the differences between the Cleantech Group's and GTM's Q1 venture capital tallies, concluding that cleantech remained a bright spot within the overall venture landscape. And then over the weekend came releases of the Moneytree (pdf) and VentureSource tallies showing a massive drop-off from Q4.  Not a bright spot at all.  Moneytree showed an 84% drop in cleantech venture dollars from Q4 to Q1, and VentureSource saw a 73% decline in renewable energy financing from 1Q08 to 1Q09.  Versus the approximate $1B tallied by both Cleantech Group and GTM, Moneytree counted only $154mm in cleantech deals, and VentureSource counted...

What’s the right energy price benchmark?

Rob Day: April 13, 2009, 3:24 PM
Everyone pays attention to oil prices as their first cut on energy prices.  I see numerous Wall St. analysts comparing oil price changes to solar stock price changes and showing strong correlations, and I scratch my head.  Oil prices shouldn't really drive the fortunes of solar companies.  Very little of our electricity generation mix in the U.S. or in Europe or Japan (or other solar markets) comes from oil-fired generators.  And yet investors seem to view solar as a hedge on oil prices, probably because oil prices are highly visible and volatile.  We pass by gas stations all the time in our daily lives and see the prices go up and down.  Oil prices are reported on in the...

What’s next after “cleantech” and “greentech”?

Rob Day: April 7, 2009, 3:10 PM
I've been having quite a few conversations with investors at generalist VC shops lately, where they've taken pains to point out that they don't use the terms "cleantech" or "greentech". I completely understand why. As cleantech/greentech have become a major part of the ongoing political discourse, the clean and green terminology is starting to get laden with "let's save the planet" meanings.  Many VCs tend to have allergic reactions to such things.  Such returns-focused VCs (and also those who think energy independence is as important as green-ness) will want to use other terms to demonstrate that they're focused on their bottom lines, and not the triple bottom line (social,...

The funny thing about percentages

Rob Day: April 3, 2009, 11:19 AM
Both Eric Wesoff (of GTM) and the Cleantech Group released their Q1 cleantech venture numbers this week, and they were pretty close to each other in terms of total dollar amounts, with Wesoff tallying $836mm (but suggesting that undisclosed deals will take the number closer to $1B) and the Cleantech Group's total at $1B. But it's always very interesting to see how such numbers are interpreted.  With a column "Optimistic News in Greentech VC," Wesoff writes that the total -- which he pegs at "close to 2007 levels" and compares favorably to Q1 2008 totals, which he had counted at "more than a billion dollars" at the time -- is very healthy under the global economic circumstances,...