$7.7B in cleantech venture investments in 2008. That's the record number Eric Wesoff has tallied up
-- and it may not include some deals done at the end of the year, so that number may go up. More great work from Eric, who's been consistently able to come out with the fastest numbers each quarter...
(Eric also touched upon one of the topics of the @Ventures "what's wrong with cleantech VC" presentation
when he argued that early stage hasn't completely dried up, since "at least 30 of the 115 greentech deals this quarter were seed stage or A rounds." But since no one has ever said that early stage is non-existent, I would argue that having only 26% of deals be in early stage is pretty indicative of an imbalance in the market. But I digress...)
So what do Cleantech Investing readers think 2009 will look like? I'd asked folks to take part in an online survey over the holidays, to gauge how optimistic or pessimistic everyone was feeling. The short answer: Not super-optimistic, but not really pessimistic either.
Basically, it's a good thing I'm not a bookie, because I wasn't very good at setting the over/under!
Question 1: Who are C.I. readers?
There's always selection bias in a survey like this where people choose whether or not to participate, but about 1/4th of the participants were venture investors; 1/4th were entrepreneurs, other investors, or other corporate participants in cleantech; 14% were some kind of service provider; and the rest weren't actively involved in cleantech, just interested. So a nice mix of folks across and from outside the industry.
Question 2: Will cleantech VC dollars in the U.S. drop by more or less than a third in 1H09 vs 1H08?
Two-thirds of readers think that the venture dollars will drop versus last year. But almost half of all respondents felt that there would be a drop, yet of less than 1/3rd.
So more than three quarters of participants took the "over" here, meaning readers are more optimistic than my prediction...
Question 3: Will cleantech VC deals (numbers, not dollars) in the U.S. drop by more or less than 20% in 1H09 vs 1H08?
83% of C.I. readers took the "over" here, including 24% who feel that the numbers will actually rise. But again a majority of respondents feel that the deal numbers will drop.
So basically, C.I. readers expect deal counts to fall, but only slightly.
Question 4: Will cleantech VC dollars into China rise by more than 25% in 1H09 vs 1H08?
A solid 71% of C.I. readers think that venture dollars into China will actually rise. But those readers were pretty evenly split as to whether the rise would be as much as 25% or not. And almost 3 out of 10 readers feel the dollars into China cleantech will actually fall.
Question 5: What will be the "hot" sector in 1H09?
I made this question intentionally undefined, and also failed to include carbon markets in my list (thankfully one reader called me on it).
The answers were all over the map, with every listed category (and some unlisted) getting at least one vote, but the two most popular choices were Energy Efficiency and Solar, each getting over 30% of the votes. Energy storage came in third, with 1/4 of the votes, and after that came everything else. Readers don't expect a huge year for biofuels, vehicles, water, green buildings, or advanced materials, in other words.
But everything got at least ONE vote.
Question 6: What will be the headline that best captures the 1H09 cleantech venture capital market?
This one was just for fun, and there were a lot of great answers. A sizable minority of answers were pretty pessimistic -- talk of bubbles bursting or unsustainable levels of investing. And a sizable minority of answers were pretty pessimistic -- talk of sustained market growth and good support from the new administration.
A couple of ones just to pull out in particular that I found interesting:
"Return to VC Basics"
"Winners Emerge as Wheat Separates"
"Transportation Electrification Dominates Thinking"
"I have no idea."
It's probably a safe assumption that last one didn't come from a VC. None would ever admit something like that!
Thanks to everyone for participating! When the 1H09 tallies come out, we'll revisit and see how accurate everyone was...