Recent Posts:

So Who’s Still Funding Early-Stage Cleantech?

Rob Day: May 20, 2014, 12:34 PM

I'm generally an optimist, and there's lots to be optimistic about right now in the cleantech sector. I've never seen a stronger group of startups in the sector as I see right now, with many fast-growing companies poised to do great things. It's what we're going to be highlighting at the NextWave Greentech 2014 conference on August 5th in Menlo Park -- last year's conference sold out, so get your ticket today so you don't end up on the waitlist like a bunch of disappointed folks did last year.

That said, I have to say I was surprised when I did a little research project recently to figure out who's funding Series A and B rounds for cleantech startups. You see, my distinct...

Venture Capital, Family Offices and the Drive for More Cleantech Success Stories

Rob Day: April 22, 2014, 11:00 AM

A while back, I wrote about the role “impact investors” could play in funding the next wave of cleantech startups. This week I had the opportunity to sit in on a conversation between several such investors from the family office community and some of the smartest generalist VCs still investing in the sector. It was a fascinating and educational afternoon.

The gist of the conversation revolved around one basic idea: how impact investors and VCs can work together to drive more successes in the sector. Because such successes (“we need ten Teslas, not just a couple”) would bring a lot more mainstream investors and entrepreneurs into the sector and feed a new wave of cleantech...

The Energy-Data Nexus Could Be the Next Big Thing for IT Industry

Rob Day: March 31, 2014, 9:00 AM

First, I’m very happy to share that the 2nd annual NextWave Greentech conference, produced by Greentech Media, will be held on August 5th in Menlo Park. After last year’s conference sold out, and was so much fun, the GTM folks asked me to chair the conference again and I am pleased to do so. So save the date!


After the recent Facebook/Oculus announcement, I was struck by Fred Wilson’s blog post on the subject. Essentially, Fred argues that this deal, along with the acquisitions and explorations by Google (such as Nest, driverless cars, etc.), is a sign that these big cash-rich tech giants are looking around for what’s next after mobile. He describes it as “call options on...

How to Succeed as a Cleantech Startup? Transcend the Category

Rob Day: March 24, 2014, 11:00 AM

Was Nest a cleantech startup? Was Waze?

To be blunt, who cares? From the standpoint of returns-maximizing VCs, it's a little bit irrelevant how you found the investment opportunity, if you were lucky enough to be a backer of Nest. The efficiency benefits? The superior design? The bigger home automation/security strategy beyond thermostats and smoke detectors? A strong-executing management team? Probably for most of the company's investors, it was some kind of a mix of all of the above, with varying degrees of emphasis.

Cleantech/greentech is not truly a category, although it is often treated as such out of necessity when tracking dollar amounts, describing investment strategies,...

Can ‘Impact Investors’ Save the Day for Cleantech Entrepreneurs?

Rob Day: March 3, 2014, 11:59 AM

I am writing this column while en route to a meeting of LPs on the subject of “impact investing.” Last week, I also attended a meeting of family office investors on the same subject. Impact investing is a growing trend and discussion topic. Can it make a difference for cleantech entrepreneurs and markets?

First of all, what is impact investing? As always, different people have different interpretations and uses. But at its most general level, it’s the idea of directing investments into projects and startups that are expected to generate positive returns and (wait for it) impacts on some key issue or another, such as habitat preservation or climate change, to pick two examples, but...

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...