Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cleantech is more than solar

Many people hear "cleantech" and jump to "clean energy" and then jump to "solar" and then jump to "Solyndra".   Now investors are  looking at cleantech as a much broader market/investment space.  The link below is a very good over view of the scope of clean tech.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SDN - Deployment Challenges

SDN (Software Defined Networks) is an emerging technology with tremendous promise to alter the networking landscape and market dynamics for both service providers and enterprises.  However, even with these promises of lower CAPEX and OPEX a significant challenge exist that will likely slow deployment.  Technology? No,  Installed base?  No? The barrier is the organization.

SPs and large enterprises have distinct organizations with separate budgets and head count that focus on the IT/Data Center and the Network respectively.  SDN looks to migrate networking functions to the data center to leverage general purpose hardware (see previous post).  Who's going to pay for the solution?  Who's going to manage the solution?  These issues may appear trivial and solvable and in an ideal world they are.  But in reality, these questions must be address and a deployment scenario that satisfies each of these organizations must be created.

An historical example was the combination of a Class 5 switch POTS card and a DSL modem.  Sounded great, simplified wiring, simplified management etc.  However, the technologist behind this initiative failed to recognize that the purchasers of the POTS card and the purchases of the DSL modems were in different organizations and in the US were legal prohibited from joint purchases.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

The inevitability of "SDN"

SDN in some form is inevitable. Industry after industry has move to general purpose hardware. Only those functions that require high performance specialized algorithms will remain in dedicated hardware. Over time, many of them will migrate to general purpose hardware as well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cleantech is Dead, Like the Internet Was is 2000

A very good panel discussion on Cleantech Investing...

Some Key points...
1. The name "cleantech" is a) being expanded beyond clean energy and b) may change all together.
2. The Web and Mobile are underlying technologies for cleantech.
3. If the idea requires a policy change don't go there.
4. Cleantech + IT is emerging as an opportunity. 

From Gigaom...
Throughout 2012, I’ve often heard entrepreneurs and investors working on technologies like clean energy, smart grid, electric cars and even biofuels, talk about the future of the term “cleantech.” It’s an umbrella term that describes very disparate sectors and was created to explain an investment class that has become less attractive to investors over the past 18 months. So, will cleantech as a term die, or morph into a new term? Or will it survive and stick as the preferred name to classify companies looking to address a coming era of resource constraints?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cleantech VC Investing Paradox

Cleantech VC Investing Paradox

It seems to me that the tier 1 VC investing in Cleantech is caught in the middle. Let's assume that the VC wants to invest $10 Million through the various rounds. On one end of the spectrum are the "home run" major impact clean energy companies. These companies are going to require $100's of millions in capital to reach profitability. For the Tier 1 VC this would imply they would need to invest ~$5 M in the company at an earlier stage of development than they traditionally invest in.

On the other end of the spectrum are the many companies/technologies that have an interesting product that works as planned, but will never be widely deployed. These companies can reach the market deployment stage, maybe profitability or perhaps be acquired with less the $2 million in invested capital. Likely an angel, sophistical angel investment or government grant company.

Thus, the Tier 1 VC is troubled to find a cleantech investment that meets their criteria.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Myth of Numbers

Numbers never lie right?  That may or may not be true.  To the marketing professional it doesn't matter.  Your goal is to make the numbers support your messages.

For example, consider the following.

4 out of 5 doctors think drug X is great.

If you market drug X you'd say...   80% of doctors think drug X is great.

If you market drug Y you'd say... 20% of doctors think drug X is useless.

Same numbers, two compelling statements, yet two very different messages.

The lesson here is not to worry about numbers.  You can spin a story that supports your goals regardless of the actual "numbers"

Marketing is all about the color gray

Marketing is all about the color gray.  Nothing is pure white or pure black.  To the engineer it is black or white or a "1" or a "0".  Does the LED blink when it's supposed to?  Does the software do what it was intended to do?   Similarly, to the sales person life is black and white.  Did they make their quota?  Yes or No, 1 or 0, black or white.

No product or service will EVER be 100%.  It will never be perfect for the customer or consumer.  The goal of marketing is to take the "gray" and make it as white as possible in the mind of the customer.