One of those ideas that I like to imagine will turn into reality in future is what I once dubbed "Silicon Valley's War On Big Oil" - the technology industry realising that global warming and peak oil make the fossil fuelled energy industry a dinosaur ripe to be eaten by nimbler competitors, and setting to it with gusto.
Wired reports that Al Gore and John Doerr are becoming partners in each other's venture capital firms and are looking for opportunities in the clean energy sector.
Gore, Doerr & Joy is not a folk rock supergroup but an investment power trio with a common goal: To use market forces to stop global warming.
Former vice president Al Gore has become a partner in Silicon Valley's top venture capital firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers. In return, John Doerr -- KPCB founder and early investor in Amazon, Google and Netscape -- has joined the advisory board of Gore's three-year-old green investment firm, Generation. And Bill Joy, the boy genius behind Sun Microsystems, Java and the latest generation of Unix operating systems, is a KPCB partner who established his cred as a techno activist by advocating limits on research in potentially dangerous technologies like genetic engineering.
Together, they're inviting all comers to submit eco-friendly business plans in need of capital.
The climate situation is so dire, and the investment opportunity so enticing, that the principals are determined to leave no possible solution unexplored. Doerr, who confessed his fear of climate change in an emotional presentation at last year's TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference, predicts that $200 million in KPCB capital will target global warming within a year, in addition to the $270 million currently allocated to environmental issues.
The alliance with Generation will help him figure out where to put the new money. The alt-fuels market is estimated to be worth $1 trillion, the global energy industry worth six times as much. All of which makes the new Green Revolution the new internet on Sand Hill Road. "It's going to be fun and wildly profitable, and really good for the planet. How can you not be excited about this?" says Joy. ...
Al Gore: If I could start up with a brief opening comment. We are announcing an international alliance between Generation Investment Management and Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis. These two firms, in alliance, cover the full spectrum of the investment marketplace, and we’re asking entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and technologists around the world to send us their ideas, business plans and new technologies.
We have geared up to give a full and fair hearing to those ideas. Though we will, no doubt, make mistakes, we will pledge our best efforts to give a full hearing -- including to ideas and technologies that perhaps have been given short shrift in the past -- and we look forward to seeing many that have not yet seen the light of day.
We believe that Sir Nicholas Stern is right when he says, along with others, that there is an investment gap of up to 1 percent of world GDP over the next several decades that needs to be closed if we’re going to succeed in quickly developing a low-carbon economy. We’re very excited to have this chance to work together and bring these two world-class teams together.
Bill Joy: It’s widely recognized that we’re going to need to invest more, but we also need to buy things we can afford.
If we look at the technologies out there today, there’s a lot of things that can be profitably deployed. People can get a lot more efficient. But the scale of the problem is very large. We’re going to need new technologies to fully solve the problem.
Investing in new technologies and more rapid deployment of technologies that are farther along and sharing intelligence about the best way to allocate capital will yield not only good investment returns but also better results for the planet. That’s why we’re so excited to be working with Generation and Al Gore.
Wired News: So you’re inviting all comers to pitch you?
Gore: The tone of your voice conveys some question about the wisdom of this invitation.
WN: It does make me wonder how you’ll cope with the inevitable flood of –- how can I say it politely? Un-actionable ideas.
Gore: Between Generation and Kleiner Perkins, we’re already seeing 3,000 plans per year. So we have already developed the capacity for this review and we have scaled it up in anticipation of increased flow. And, of course, we recognize that there are a lot of proposals that should never see the light of day. But we also recognize that there are a lot of great ideas and technologies that have not been given adequate consideration and aren’t (given adequate consideration) because of the heavy subsidies for high-carbon technologies that are enormously profitable for incumbent enterprises. As the world shifts away from a high-carbon economy, we need to do a better job, all of us, in recognizing the new opportunities.
David Blood: The challenge that Bill Joy just outlined is an enormous challenge. We’re in the process of moving from the carbon-based economy to something different. It would be probable that that would undergo a change over the course of decades.
Our guess is -- given the challenges associated with climate change -- which transition is going to need to occur much more quickly. Over a 10-year period, possibly a five-year period.
So the need for entrepreneurship and creativity in ways we can’t even fathom, not only as investors or business people but across civil society, is so great that, in some ways, the call seems to be, we’re asking for a lot.
But it’s also symbolic, to say we need to take a different approach here. We need to have a total change of mindset. We need creativity. We need existing businesses to change -- entrepreneurs, capital markets professionals and public policy. ...