Recent Posts:

It’ll Get Better

Rob Day: July 11, 2011, 6:52 PM

If you're a cleantech entrepreneur whose company will need more capital over the next 12 months, you have to be worried. Cleantech remains out of favor among many LPs, VC itself remains out of favor, and most cleantech VC firms are running out of money. Confirming some of this, Dow Jones reported today that while VC firm fundraising was up 19% in terms of dollars closed in the first half of the year, actual fund closings were down 38%.  

Meanwhile, even the Cleantech Group couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to report Q2 as anything other than a down quarter. And in my opinion, if you look at the charts in their very handy press-pack presentation, you have to conclude that cleantech...

Why These Companies Are IPOing (Revisited)

Rob Day: June 30, 2011, 9:41 PM

Almost a year ago, I wrote about several cleantech IPOs that were taking place at that time, in somewhat skeptical terms. And I wasn't alone. With the renewed, recent spate of cleantech IPOs and filings (Kior, Luca, et al), I looked back on that same column and thought it was worth bringing up and discussing again.

How are those IPOs from back then doing now? A123 is trading way down, Codexis is down significantly, Tesla is a little bit up, Amyris is quite a bit up, PetroAlgae is a pink sheet, and Gevo lowered their offering price but has been fairly flat since the IPO. So it's a mixed bag, not a resounding set of successes from which to draw inspiration. And yet, here it is...

Family Offices: Cleantech Investing’s Next Wave?

Rob Day: June 22, 2011, 9:34 AM

First of all, a congrats to the guys at Greentown Labs for their grand opening last night; the event was a great success.  I wrote about them and their role a while back, and I still am very impressed with how they're bringing a collaborative -- and cheap! -- approach to getting things actually built and implemented, without taking tens of millions of dollars of venture capital to do so.  The startups at Greentown Labs are applying a "guerrilla cleantech" model to what they're doing that really undermines the "cleantech is always capital-intensive" argument I've been hearing a lot of these days from my fellow cleantech investors. So cheers to the guys and gals at Greentown Labs on...

Top-Tier Entrepreneur Talent and Cleantech Startups

Rob Day: June 13, 2011, 9:01 AM

The single most significant reason my firm passes on venture-stage investment opportunities is because of management teams.

I've heard some cleantech investors say things like, "All I care about is the technology; I can replace the team."  That may be a valid approach, but it's just not ours. In cleantech, it's as yet unproven that the technology is really the single biggest determining factor of investment success.  The innovation may be special today, but with the innovation cycle outpacing the commercialization cycle in many cleantech sectors, quite often today's breakthrough innovation is next year's also-ran. There are a million ways to turn photons into kilowatt-hours, for...

A Very Important Article About Cleantech Policy in the US

Rob Day: June 3, 2011, 11:19 PM

Take the time to read this Politico article.  It's an important glimpse inside the world of the environmental funding community, and the role the community plays in energy policy.

Just a few quick thoughts and questions:

1. Flooding D.C. with funding on a very periodic basis to support one or two specific legislative efforts is not, um, a terribly effective policy strategy.  

2. "[W]ho spent about 30 minutes with the group before racing out to watch a Chicago Bulls playoff game" ... No comment.

3. By reactively pulling back so hard on funding, environmental foundations are basically pulling the rug out from under many organizations that are only now hitting their stride....

How to Raise a First-Time Cleantech Venture Fund

Rob Day: June 2, 2011, 12:13 PM

The economy may be gearing up to double-dip, Congress and state-level governments may be soured on doing anything serious about energy technology and climate change, and LPs may be down on the venture capital category altogether. But I still continue to be approached by smart, motivated investors looking to launch a first-time cleantech venture fund. It's a testament to their enthusiasm and entrepreneurialism -- and to the continued evidence of the long-term business opportunity in these sectors.

But how can these entrepreneurial investors successfully launch a new cleantech venture firm?

My first piece of advice is: don't do it. Seriously, this is a very hard thing to do even...

When is a Venture Investment Not a Venture Investment?

Rob Day: May 23, 2011, 9:39 PM

First, a quick note: I've differed with Vinod Khosla a couple of times on this site in the past. But let's give him his due as well.  Read the story I've linked to here, and be inspired. Such drive and audaciousness is what venture capital is really all about -- and what makes great entrepreneurs. Especially in cleantech, where so many customers are change-resistant, all entrepreneurs and VCs should read this story and take it to heart.

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What exactly is a 'venture capital investment'?  

A definition seems obvious ('startup capital') but of course becomes devilishly difficult to place within specific boundaries. Generally speaking, VC as a subset of private equity is...