The Greening of Silicon Valley
Don't know if you caught the 7/17/2006 cover story on Newsweek. It was about the Greening of America and described a number of initiatives people and businesses are undertaking to affect positive change in the world we live in.
I was particularly pleased to see Ray Lane (former COO of Oracle, former Booz Allen Hamilton partner and personal friend) quoted in this piece. He said:
'"Al Gore can't convince me, but his data can convince me," venture capitalist Ray Lane remarks ruefully. Lane is general partner in the prominent Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which has pledged to invest $100 million in green technology. He arrived at his position as a "Republican environmentalist" while pondering three trends: global warming, American dependence on foreign oil and the hypermodernization of Asian societies.'
I'm witnessing these trends in some capital deals I'm involved in. Specifically, one of them is now struggling because:
- China and other developing nations are gobbling up every scrap of raw material this industry uses
- increasing fuel costs are driving processing costs through the roof
- environmental laws in the U.S. are making production here less attractive compared to more lax countries
Smart firms are using technology to reduce emissions, to capture and convert solar energy into a business and household asset, etc. When flying over Iowa the other day, I saw another wind energy farm. We need facilities like these along with investors willing to rewrite the ways we design and operate businesses.
Green isn't an issue that only affects one political party. It affects businesses, retirement plans, the global environment and so much more. We need VCs to fund experiments in green technologies (e.g., the electric auto initiatives that Kleiner and others are undertaking) and we need software to optimize the quality of the world we learn it.