Recent Posts:

What Is “NextWave Greentech”?

Rob Day: July 20, 2013, 7:11 PM

When the folks at Greentech Media asked me to chair their upcoming "NextWave Greentech Investing" conference, I immediately said yes. The chance to have many of the more active and innovative investors hang out together for a day, talking about how they're trying to reinvent the sector, is just simply going to be a lot of fun -- and hopefully pretty informative for entrepreneurs in the sector. Certainly it'll be a good place to look for funding!

But it still begs the question: What exactly is this next wave all about? How do you define it? We've touched upon this question a bit in past columns, but mostly by talking about what it's not. The concept is clearly about creating new...

A Conversation With Limited Partners, Part Two: Comparable Returns

Rob Day: July 15, 2013, 4:46 PM

In the last column, we discussed the divestiture movement's pressure on limited partners, and how it represents an opportunity and not just an obstacle to returns, even without using it as a negative screen.

This is all part of a broader conversation I've been having with other limited partners and fiduciaries lately, all leading up to the NextWave Greentech Investing conference in September, for which I'm told a few dozen LPs and GPs have already signed up. Which is great to hear.

Nevertheless, despite that happy news, for today's column let's start by acknowledging two uncomfortable facts for LPs.

First, that even the most discerning negative screens for LPs will indeed be a...

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...