Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Paris Climate Summit

This quote is pretty apt at explaining our situation:

 Still, the rest of the world must be clear about the implications of the agreement shaping up in Paris. Calling 2.7 to 3.5 C of warming a success is akin to saying, when leaping a canyon 15 feet wide, that leaping only 10 feet is no cause for alarm. After all, 10 feet is farther than you’ve leaped in the past and represents undeniable progress towards the ultimate goal. 


Sunday, November 22, 2015

CREE Connected Bulbs

So, I'm jumping into the latest thing and dabbling with home automation.  After some effort, I've managed to get my Wink system talking to all of my stuff.

Highest marks goes to Nest and Ring for being the most seamless.  Well done!

One particular challenge (and the point of this post) was my CREE bulbs.  The help manual says to cycle the power 2seconds on and 2 seconds off in order to reset the bulb for pairing.

However, it is actually ONE second on, 2 off.  Then it worked just fine.

Here's Aloysius from Cree:
Hello everyone,
This is Aloysius from Cree's Connected Bulb support team. I apologize for the troubles some of you may be having. Please go ahead and try resetting our bulbs with the following procedure which should resolve all the issues.
Here is how to manually reset the bulb,
Our Cree Connected bulbs need to be turned on for 1 second and then off for 2 seconds over and over until there is a noticeable flash letting the user know the bulb has been hardware reset.
-Note: The (1-sec-on : 2-sec-off) iterations can be done with a stopwatch but it isn't an exact science. Basically you need to turn it off long enough for the power to become completely exhausted in the capacitor and then add power back to the capacitor and do process again. Bulb is meant to hardware reset after 4 iterations.
This procedure is most easily done with a regular light switch rather than screwing the bulb in and out of the fixture by hand. Most bathrooms are a good candidate since they generally have easy access fixtures with a light switch. Also, please don't use a 3 way switch for resetting.
I hope this helps,
From Cree Support

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Gas Volatility

Back when I was trying to make Energy Cache work, a big headwind that I ran into was the falling price of natural gas due to fracking.  The EIA reported that gas prices for electric power generation were hovering around $3.

I tried to make the argument that, long term, prices would go back up.  And by early 2014, they had - almost to $8/MMBtu.

However, I just checked recently and they are back to $3.  This is crazy.  Look at the Year on Year variability!

It's not that uncommon for the price of gas to be either 50% higher or 50% cheaper than the year prior.  Hedging this risk must be crazy expensive, and there has to be an opportunity in here somewhere.

Of course...we think there is - by moving your peaking and firming fuel from gas to the sun.  :-)

All data from:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lean Startup and the Importance of Doing the Right Thing

I just watched a great video from the Lean Startup conference, by Dan Milstein:

It's 20 minutes long and worth watching.  However, before you run off and do that, I'll let you know why I thought it was interesting. 

In it he discusses the detriment of working on the wrong thing.  It's fascinating (but true), when he says that you are better off working on NOTHING at all, than working on the wrong thing.  This is a complete contradiction to the workplace biases and pressures that are so common. 

Secondly, he talks about how to determine what is the right thing.  In it, he gives an example of a teleportation technology, and a simple healthcare app (which reminded me a lot of my post on Type I/Type II companies).  If the technology is uncertain, but the market is guaranteed, then spend time on the technology, not the market.  If the technology is certain, but the market is not, then spend time validating the market.  Because so many IT/app companies really have little technology risk, so much of the Lean Startup movement focuses on market validation.  However, in the energy space, where I live, I think that the markets are known and regulated, and it is the technology risk that is the bigger piece.

However, as interesting as that was, his real point was that the greatest uncertainty (and therefore the greatest value for the company to understand) can shift several times in the company development.  It is the ability of the company to recognize the shifting risks and adjust what they are working on (to avoid working on the wrong thing), that is the greatest value to the company.

It's a great video.  Have a watch.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

For all entrepreneurs

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A good day

Today was a good day.  My prior best at Disneyland's Astro Blasters was around 800,000.  Today:

Yes, that's right.  2.7 million!  My new strategy of only going after diamonds and triangles paid off.  After getting my picture I was told that I was one of the top 10 for the day.  When I had a look to see where I ended up, I saw this:

Numero uno!  By a pretty healthy margin!

Sorry BF...

Monday, September 08, 2014

Why an exploding offer can blow up in your face

Today Y Combinator had a great post called "Exploding Offers Suck".  The key take-away is in the first line:
Exploding offers suck.  Founders should be able to choose the investor they want to work with, not have to make a decision based on time pressure.
I think this is a smart move on YC's part.  They are positioning themselves as being founder friendly, further strengthening the desire of good founders to be with them.  They then get the best founders and the positive cycle continues.  It's also smart for them to be very public about this because they want the perception of YC to extend their reach even ahead of anyone's actual experiences with their policies.

Exploding offers are pretty bad.  This can be common even beyond the accelerator stage.  VCs can and do provide term sheets with short fuses.  One very real reason for this is that the VC does not want to be used as a stalking horse.  If a VC is willing to put their neck on the line by making an offer, they don't want that simply to be used to get a higher offer somewhere else.  This is a completely fair position. 

On the other hand, decisions made by time pressure can backfire.  Back when I was finishing up at business school, a major car company that some of my classmates were interviewing with came up with the following strategy.  They took eight students from top business schools (two from MIT, two from Stanford, two from Harvard, etc) and brought them all together for interviews on the same day.  And the end of the day they announced to the group that they were happy with everyone and that they had two job offers, which would be made to everyone.  The first two people to accept would get the job.  Brilliant idea, right?  What a great way to implement competitive tension and ensure that they would be able to fill the positions!

Wrong.  Out of disgust (for being put in the position, for feeling like this is how they are valued, for feeling interchangeable with everyone else in the group) NO ONE agreed.  It is my understanding that the positions remained vacant for several months.

None of this, of course, addresses the obvious issue of how loyalty will be affected down the road by starting the deal this way.

So, the best approach is to build a strong relationship with someone (as an investor, accelerator, employer, what have you) and make someone WANT to be with you.  Be the VC firm of first choice, independent of valuation.  Make your new employees loyal and excited before they even sign for your company.  Foster a sense of transparency and openness, and that will pay dividends that overcome the stalking-horse problem.