Recent Posts:

A Conversation With Limited Partners, Part One: Categorical Denial

Rob Day: July 2, 2013, 7:55 PM

In this column, over the next few weeks, we'll be increasingly speaking to the limited partner ("LP") community: Pension funds, endowments, corporates and others who are the major source of funding for venture capital firms. The upcoming "NextWave Greentech Investing" conference by Greentech Media has already brought in a lot of participants from the LP community (you haven't signed up yet? why not!) and is aimed at encouraging a broader conversation across LPs as to when and how to get back into the sector and the megatrends it's taking advantage of. So we've been spending a lot of time recently getting the LP perspective on where the sector is right now.

As such, I had the...

Some Thoughts on Cleanweb Business Models

Rob Day: June 24, 2013, 10:00 AM

It's great to see a significant upswing in entrepreneurial and venture capital interest in so-called "cleanweb" business opportunities. Regular readers of this column will know that I am a fan of the strong business and environmental potential from the application of web-based business models to resource efficiency. It skewers the popular misperception that "cleantech is always capital intensive and takes a long time to commercialize", and can have a significant impact.

However, all cleanweb startups are not created equal.

With the rise of the category, I've seen a rise in the number of cleanweb startups pitching venture capitalists with somewhat muddled business models. Just...

Defining ‘Significant’ Cleantech Investment and Deployment

Rob Day: May 29, 2013, 2:00 PM

First off, I'm very excited about a new conference Greentech Media and I are teaming up on. In Menlo Park in September, we're going to host a crowd of limited partners, family offices, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other industry participants for the first "NextWave Greentech Investing" event. It's an idea based upon this column I wrote a few months back, and cheers to my friends at GTM for following through on it. Already a bunch of LPs and family offices are registered to attend, which is great to see. Should be a fantastic day with a wide variety of interesting investment theses brought out into the open.

And yes, that means there will be some (constructive)...

A Tale of Two Cleantechs

Rob Day: May 14, 2013, 11:33 PM

Two years ago, I heard today, at the NVCA Annual Meeting the Cleantech session had 200 participants.

At today's, it had around 30.

And yet I walked away very encouraged. Why? Because in a room that probably had something like 200 or so collective years of cleantech venture experience, so many smart minds were focused on the basic question that we're wrestling with these days: "What will the next wave of cleantech venture capital look like?"

The panel session quickly turned into a full-room discussion on the subject, with lots of fodder for future columns (I'll get to them eventually, I promise). But perhaps the biggest takeaway for me from the conversation was Josh Green's...

Consolidation in the Intelligent Energy Sector

Rob Day: May 8, 2013, 8:43 AM

Consolidation in an industry sector can be a good or a bad sign.

The waves of consolidation in the PV manufacturing sector for example, presaged (when it was vertical consolidation to lock up access to demand for panels) and then highlighted the overcapacity in that industry. Much of the ongoing consolidation upstream in the solar value chain at this point is opportunistic consolidation of IP on the cheap. Not exciting at all from an investor's perspective.

But the looming consolidation in the "intelligent energy" (i.e., IT applications in energy efficiency) sector is, I believe, a very different story. One that is positioning the sector to start showing some really exciting...

Clean Energy Policy: A Three-Legged Stool

Rob Day: April 22, 2013, 2:35 PM

As I sit here at the jam-packed BNEF Summit listening to Senator Murkowski express her frustration about unrealistic political rhetoric on energy, I'm reflecting upon all the recent discussion among clean energy advocates here in the U.S. about priorities.

There's a recognition that in this policy environment, at a federal level this sector won't be able to enjoy all the policy support it should. But upon recognizing this the three major camps of clean energy policy advocates immediately fall upon each other, arguing that their camp deserves the most attention and support.

Advocates of deployment argue for implementing today's energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies...

Why Are Utilities Letting Other People Take All the Value?

Rob Day: April 4, 2013, 2:37 PM

The traditional utility model is under threat. Industry leaders like Jim Rogers and David Crane are talking about this publicly. It's becoming harder and harder to make profits managing wires that distribute centrally sourced kilowatt-hours to end customers on demand. The aging T&D workforce, new potential significant loads like PHEVs, intermittent and distributed generation sources, an increasingly complex array of technologies on the demand side and on the grid for utilities to be on top of -- it's not surprising that utilities are finding it a daunting challenge to profitably manage their businesses with their existing wires-based revenue models.

But what I'm surprised about is...