Monday, October 23, 2006

Sales 'aint got nothing on Uncle Sam

I believe most people's political philosophy can largely be ascertained by knowing which form of bureaucracy they believe to be less stultifying and corrupt: the corporate or the governmental.

I don't intend to weigh in on this today (there are plenty of great examples on both sides), except to say when it comes to changing the goals midstream, the corporation (represented here) 'aint got nothing on Uncle Sam.

In case you missed it, the Bush administration has announced a slight revision to the original 1992 goals for the adoption of alternative transportation fuels. (If the article doesn't load at first in Firefox, try refreshing.)

I would love be in the board meeting that starts out like this:

"There's one piece of bad news and two pieces of good news. We aren't going to make our plan, but we only missed by 92% and we'll be back on track in just 20 extra years."

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I thought that explaining the name of this blog was as good a first post as any. "Venture Again" to me evoked several themes.

  • I am clearly not among the first VCs to start a blog. In fact, I was hoping to win the prize for the 100,000th VC blog hosted on blogspot, but no one has contacted me yet. (There are also already several very good cleantech VC blogs.) "Again" acknowledges that this is "yet another" VC blog. But I hope it is nonetheless occasionally of interest to a few, despite the obvious fact that some VC has just started a blog about venture again.
  • Venture Capital is in a lot of ways about reinvention and starting over. I remember entering the industry in 1999 as an Associate covering software and internet opportunities, knowing almost nothing about the broader context of those industries. For all of 2006 I have been working like it's 1999, mapping the Cleantech landscape and developing investment theses, drinking from a firehose all the while. As the end of the year approaches, I am just now becoming more comfortable in the sector, with at least semi-formed opinions of what types of new investments I am looking to make. I hardly need a reminder to stay modest about my grasp of this rapidly evolving space -- the career cleantech entreprenuers and executives I meet with every day serve that purpose. And yet this name helps recall the feeling I had much of this year that I had just entered venture again.
  • The cleantech industry is now intersecting venture capital in a significant way. This clearly isn't the first time the sector has attracted significant VC interest. A perusal of the "Alternative Energy" IPOs from 1997-2000 which are now walking dead (at best) proves that. Few significant companies of long-term value emerged from this period. Apparently all the pieces for a long-term cleantech investing thesis were not in place in the late 90's. While many of us believe this has now changed for good, it is worth reminding ourselves that this industry can be very cyclical, and cleantech is a hot area of venture again.
  • But in reality, I've borrowed the title from the Bard. In Act I, scene i of Henry IV, part 2, Lord Bardolph delivers a speech after the (reasonably justified) rebellion of which he was a part has been supressed. I think these lines well capture the attitude all entrepreneurs must have as they pursue their work:
We all that are engaged to this loss
Knew that we ventured on such dangerous seas
That if we wrought our life 'twas ten to one;
And yet we ventured, for the gain proposed
Choked the respect of likely peril fear'd;
And since we are o'erset, venture again.
Come, we will all put forth, body and goods.

I am enthusiastic to help put forth some of the goods cleantech entrepreneurs need to build their businesses, even as they put forth their bodies. I hope this blog may provide a forum for the exchange of ideas on this topic and others, and is of ocassional value to some readers.