Friday, September 15, 2017

The tough road.

When watching the movie Lion, there is a scene, early on, where the little boy, lost in India, finds a caring woman. She gives him food, and a safe bed. He’s been lost and scared for so long, it looks like he’ll finally be safe. However, the next day, it is clear that he’s in danger, so as much as he doesn’t want to head back into the streets – he runs. He knows that the road is hard, but he has to keep walking it.

I stepped down as CEO of Edisun fourteen months ago. I’ve been on a long journey myself. I spent six months in Colombia, learning Spanish and meeting Latin American investors. I have spent significant time trying to forward my mission of venture investing in energy/food/water technology companies. Several times I thought I had reached my goal of returning to the investing side. It’s been a tough road, and recently, with my promotion to Managing Director of a local family office, I had thought I’d finally found my destination.

I’m passionate about venture capital investing. Ten years ago I was a young, junior partner at a firm in Australia. I led the firm’s biggest investment and biggest exit. I then returned to Pasadena to start several companies at Idealab, and co-found many others. I’ve been deeply involved in energy technology companies since 1993, and I know why many of the companies have struggled along the way. As founder/CEO of two energy companies, I know first hand why these companies struggle.

I respect the transparency of Brad Feld, Fred Wilson, and Mark Suster. I’m passionate about the opportunities in Southern California, and my home in Pasadena. I feel that technology, driven by world-class education and R&D, will pay off many times over. So, I’m putting myself out there on my blog to show my vulnerabilities. Along the way, I’ve taught a class at USC, helped a fuel cell company with their investors, and helped bring capital to a solar company that I deeply care about. The road has been rough, but the view has been worth yet.

Yet, I must acknowledge that I have not yet found my destination. As much as it pains me, I must pull on my boots again, and put on my wet, cold jacket and head back out into the rain. I am not yet where I need to be to grow, and to provide value to the world. Like so many fellow entrepreneurs, I know the value of this phase:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew 
To serve your turn long after they are gone, 
And so hold on when there is nothing in you 
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
And I shall.


Kipling, Rudyard. "If"

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Comey's Shining Moment

James Comey was amazing to watch today - Joe Friday, through and through. However, I feel, that his best moment, and there were many, was in the short clip below. This isn't about scoring political points. This isn't about Republicans protecting their elected leader. This is about a foreign government undermining the rules of the game and the trust in the system.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

US Leaving Paris - MIT and System Dynamics

So, many people have asked me what the effects will be if the US leaves the Paris Accord (as Trump has said that he will do). Right at the same time I sat in on a fantastic lecture from MIT's Professor John Sterman. It is a *tremendous* watch, and well worth the time.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Investment Thesis

Fred Wilson gave a really great talk at my alma mater, MIT.  I'm going to link the relevant bit below:


As someone who has lived through the "Cleantech" collapse since 2009, this is really enlightening and encouraging.  It's hard to believe, but yes, there was a time when a solid investment thesis in internet investing got laughed at.  I feel, by analogy, this now applies to energy/food/water investing (see, we can't even call it cleantech anymore - note the blog title).

I think the premise is brilliant - "The best time to invest in something is when nobody believes in it but you [snip], but you have to know why".

We're seeing the investment blues of energy investing starting to thaw now.  DBL, 1955, Obvious, Evok, and others are getting funds off the ground.  The fundamentals haven't changed (in fact, they've gotten stronger) and people better understand how not to repeat the excesses of 2004-2008. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Refugees vs Immigrants vs Illegal Immigrants

President Trump doesn't seem to know the different between refugees, illegal immigrants, or just plain immigrants.

My friend Dorrian Porter made this video, which I think really highlights the America we would want, vs the one we have.

And, as far as refugees go, here's a song that I loved as a kid, which I think will always be relevant:



This is the tale of a little boy
Wandering far from his home
Most of his family were with him then
And nothing but life did they own
Tortured by war in their native land
Their only recourse was to flight
Tracing the path of the sun by day
And led by the north star at night
Onward they pressed to the promised land
Not knowing if that was the way
And none of the children could understand
And this little boy used to say
Hey, hey, hey

Mama , where do we go from here
Mamma, why can' t we stay
Mamma, is daddy very near
Mamma, why do you pray

Down came the winter, the food was scarce
The people were falling like flies
Disease helped starvation make matters worse
And parents resorted to lies
Hush, your mamma will soon be well
Though all they can do is to wait
And one little boy hears the doctor tell
The others he thinks it' s too late
It' s too late

Mamma, he whispers quietly
Mamma, you' re looking old
Mamma, why don' t you answer me
Mamma, your hands feel cold

He rushes out into the chilly night
He can' t beleive what he has been told
The tears in his eyes start to blur his sight
And freeze on his face with the cold
But in the next camp, ther is a mother mild
Who' s mourning a son passed away
And fate brings the cries of the little child
To her just as he starts to say
Hey, hey, hey

Mamma, she knows what she must do
mamma, she thinks of her
Mamma, I must take the place of you
And take him into my care

Mamma, oh oh...

 

Monday, February 06, 2017

How Obamacare is good for entrepreneurship

This post, from Reid Hoffman, is worth reading:

http://www.reidhoffman.org/474-social-impact-and-politics/1469-obamacare-is-more-than-a-safety-net-it-s-a-trampoline

The basic idea is that, by coupling employment and healthcare, most people cannot afford the risk of leaving their job (even if sub-optimal) to start a company.  I know that I have often done the COBRA dance before the ACA came out when starting a new company.  With the ACA, people aren't tethered to their jobs, allowing them to start new companies.

This is good for entrepreneurship, which is good for businesses, which is good for America.  Full stop.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump and Immigration

As someone who went through the US immigration system, I'm dismayed at Trump's mishandling of immigration.  As appalling as it is to shut the door on refugees (who certainly aren't here trying to "take-yer-jobs!") I think the more disastrous part has been shutting the door on *legal* green-card and visa holders.

There is a certain contract - you, the immigrant, will pay thousands in fees, be subjected to all sorts of paperwork and background checks, and will suffer with a life on hold (and possibly be trapped working in a company you don't like, but can't leave) and in exchange for that necessary evil, the US will process your application as quickly as it can and either accept or reject your stay.

However, to then take people who have gone through that process and to lock them out is a complete violation of that contract.

I'm pleased that the outrage has been this acute, and I'm pleased that the White House has backtracked on the green-card restriction.

Oh, and, not for nothing, I'm not at all surprised that Trump made sure the ban doesn't touch any countries that he does business with (from the left-wing rag Bloomberg).