Recent Posts:

Venture Capital Deal Counting: What’s Really Going On Behind the Numbers?

Rob Day: February 7, 2014, 12:47 PM

The latest PwC Cleantech MoneyTree report came out this week, and kudos to the team there for pulling together a helpful deal tally tracker.

That resource, and the other tallies, provide a lot of useful insight on the current state of cleantech venture investing. It's especially valuable when a group like PwC that tracks venture deals broadly across all sectors does a special tally for cleantech in a cross-sectoral way. So my thanks to them for continuing to do so.

Once again, we learn why it's important to pay more attention to the deal counts than the headline-grabbing dollar totals.

The cover blurb reads: "In the fourth quarter, cleantech industry venture capital funding...

Some Lessons From Early Successes of the Next Wave

Rob Day: January 30, 2014, 12:00 PM

As we see increasing evidence of a "next wave" of cleantech investing and entrepreneurship, we're starting to see some early wins emerge. What lessons can we learn from the experiences of recent demonstrated successes like Nest, SolarCity, rumored upcoming IPOs (we see you, Opower), and earlier examples like Tesla?

People will draw their own conclusions, but as I've been mulling it over during the past few weeks I've come up with the following (incomplete list of) success factors I'll be looking for going forward when reviewing investments. This list isn't very original or deep, admittedly, but it's an early attempt to start trying to piece together a blueprint for big wins in our...

Cleantech Investing: 10 Predictions for 2014

Rob Day: January 13, 2014, 2:55 PM

The sun is shining, the Boston snow is mostly melted away, and dilettante "news" programs have moved away from talking about cleantech to talking about doping in baseball. And my 2013 predictions weren't so bad for once (although still not great). So why not throw some 2014 predictions out there?

Overall, I'm expecting the rebound in the sector to start to become more apparent. The next wave of investors and entrepreneurs should start to see some concrete results out of their efforts, and with luck, the overall economy will continue to revive, which would help our sector (and all other sectors). So that's the context for the following predictions (and I'll note once again -- my...

Looking Back at 2013’s Cleantech Investing Predictions

Rob Day: January 8, 2014, 10:36 PM

It's that time again! Time to look back on my predictions from a year ago and see how the year turned out. It's also a good excuse to take our minds off that horrible 60 Minutes "news" story from this past week.

Whatever. The cleantech revolution may not be televised, but it's already powering your TV.

Anyway, here are the predictions and how they turned out.

 

1. U.S. cleantech deal counts will be flat in 2013 (within 10% plus or minus) of 2012 levels, and dollar amounts will be down.

Hey, nailed one! Even a stopped watch is right twice a day, I guess.

My reasoning at the time was simple. LPs weren't jumping back into the sector, so VCs didn't have more capital to put...

A Simple Question

Rob Day: January 3, 2014, 4:19 PM

Happy New Year, everyone.

We're waiting for the release of year-end cleantech venture deal tallies before posting a wrapup of the year and a set of predictions for 2014. But in the meantime, I wanted to ask you a simple question.

In case you missed it, in an article from back in September, Stephen Lacey highlighted just how rapidly costs have been falling for many clean technologies. 

  • The cost of a solar PV module in the U.S. has dropped by something like 80% since 2008, including a 27% drop in 2012 alone.
  • The cost of LED lighting has dropped to something like one-sixth of what it was in 2008.
  • The cost of EV batteries has been cut in half since 2008.

So let's all...

Mind the Gap: Funding Challenges for Capital-Efficient Startups

Rob Day: December 19, 2013, 9:34 PM

Let me start with some background that you already know.

The venture capital model is predicated on one big concept: Investing capital in differently priced tranches over time as risk is removed from a developing entrepreneurial effort. It wouldn't make sense to invest all the capital a startup would ever need on day one -- how would you price it? What about the risk that the idea just doesn't work? So the VCs (and their brethren) invest a bit at a time as milestones are reached. And ideally, a new outside investor steps in at each of these funding events, to provide an outside valuation of the company at each stage.

When the system doesn't work -- when capital isn't present at...

How Crowdfunding Could Impact Cleantech Entrepreneurs (And Why It Probably Won’t)

Rob Day: December 2, 2013, 12:24 PM

Ever since the JOBS Act was enacted, there's been a lot of chatter about how crowdfunding could end up competing out venture capital as an asset category, and/or saving cleantech entrepreneurs during a time when generalist VCs have been backing away from the sector. 

I'm a fan of crowdfunding in general, and I think the democratization of startup funding is a good thing overall, especially for capital-light startups. It's already impacting the venture capital business in sectors like social media. And there's a lot of potential for crowdfunding to have a significant positive impact for cleantech entrepreneurs in particular. But I'm pessimistic that it will do so, at least anytime...