Recent Posts:

VC fund fundraising remains depressed

Rob Day: July 8, 2010, 10:09 AM

Just a really quick follow-up on my last post regarding cleantech venture investments... Entrepreneurs need to realize that this is unlikely to change very soon.  Why? Because VCs themselves are still finding it hard to raise new funds.

Dow Jones put out their tally of VC fundraising in 1H10 today, and the headline was "US Venture Fund-Raising Up 13%".  I've seen people talking about how that's great news.  Not really.  Simply look at the very first data slide in their presentation and you'll see what I mean.  The totals are up compared to 1H09 because 1H09 was awful.  The dollar amounts remain way down from previous years, however.  

I said a while back that my guess was 2010...

Cleantech venture capital remains tepid, not hot

Rob Day: July 7, 2010, 7:42 AM

To judge from the headline of the Cleantech Group's Q2 numbers, "Global Clean Technology Venture Investment Increases 65 Percent in 1H 2010", you might think that cleantech venture capital is white hot right now.

It's certainly not as bad as it was in 1H09.  But there are signs in the CG numbers that things remain fairly tepid.  As the press release describes, the number of deals actually went down from Q1 to Q2 (from 192 to 140), for example.

But this is why we ignore headlines, and even dollar totals, and dig into the details, right?

So what are the trends of interest within the broader mediocre activity level in the sector.  First of all, much of the decline in deal count (which,...

Nikola would be proud

Rob Day: June 29, 2010, 7:37 PM

Tesla went out to IPO today quite successfully.  I was very glad to see the offering do well, at least on the first day. I've seen complaints about it going out too early (as yet unprofitable, and mass market car not due until 2011), but it does seem from the outside like a relatively well-run company with a compelling story. Low risk? Absolutely not. But I'm hoping they do well. Especially because this sector needs more success stories.  LPs have been waiting very, very patiently for more big visible stories like First Solar... will Tesla prove to be one of them?  Time, and stock market investor patience, will tell... 

I reiterate my long-standing tongue in cheek offer:  If the...

Some random cleantech VC thoughts and aphorisms

Rob Day: June 25, 2010, 7:43 PM

Been away on a major travel binge, so apologies for a download of a bunch of randomness that has accumulated over the past few weeks.  So, in no particular order:

1. Selling even millions of dollars' worth of a Gen 1 product at zero or negative gross margins doesn't count as "Commercialization".  It's just a large beta test.  ...Yes I'm talking to you, thin film solar and solid-oxide fuel cell industries. 

2. Tom Pincince, President and CEO at my portfolio company Digital Lumens, is also a former Forrester Research analyst.  And he has some pretty interesting predictions on LEDs.  Definitely check them out.

3. VC/PE funds often pass on great deals.  And know it.  Constantly-shifting...

More on the Massachusetts innovation gap

Rob Day: June 13, 2010, 8:30 PM

I got a lot of feedback on my last post comparing Massachusetts with California in terms of Research, Innovation, and Commercialization of clean technologies.  One respondent, my friend Jay Fiske of Wakonda Technologies, was so knowledgeable and thoughtful in his take that I asked him to write it up as a guest blog post.  So... Enjoy!

-----------

In his most recent post, Rob Day asks why the West Coast seems to be better at commercializing cleantech research than the East Coast.  

It's a great question.

As a former cleantech venture investor with the Massachusetts Green Energy Fund and as Vice President of Operations for Wakonda Technologies -- a company developing high-efficiency,...

Massachusetts’ cleantech challenge: Turning Research into Innovation

Rob Day: June 6, 2010, 11:38 AM

Apparently, June is Innovation Month in New England.  So I thought I would write a bit about one of the perplexing things about cleantech investing in New England.

Now, every region ends up being a bit self-centered at times, and New England is certainly no exception.  But it's a commonly-held and oft-stated position among those involved in energytech innovation in this region that "Massachusetts is THE world-class center of research in energy and clean technologies".

If you are one of those who takes this kind of statement literally, then it probably comes as some surprise to then see that California typically attracts significantly more cleantech venture dollars than Massachusetts,...

Risk vs. Reward

Rob Day: May 27, 2010, 7:49 AM

One thing that non-VCs typically don't have a good understanding of is how different venture investors view the risk versus reward tradeoff when it comes to managing portfolio companies.

How do VCs get compensated, besides salary?  "Carry", a/k/a profit-sharing.  And except in very few cases, carry on an entire fund, not on a per-deal basis.  Everyone in the industry is familiar with the studies that have shown that fund performance is typically determined, at least on the upside, by a handful of deals across an entire portfolio.  In other words, 1 or more really big wins drive all the performance.  And, by the way, 1 or more really big wins really drive a VC's career as well, because...