Interview with Kleiner Perkins’ Ray Lane

lane 2001 300 Interview with Kleiner Perkins’ Ray Lane

I’m on my way up north for a few meetings in the Bay Area, the firstof which is an interview with Ray Lane, Managing Partner of KleinerPerkins, the legendary venture capital fund. Ray has generouslyconsented to let me interview him for my next book on renewables, inwhich we’ll cover certain economic issues.

I was just putting the final touches on my interview script, which Ihadn’t planned to publish, when it occurred to me that readers may findsome of this interesting:

Ray: I first met you at the Detroit auto show in late2009. You impressed me by taking the stage and essentially pointing outexactly what had noticed, i.e., that the other presenters hadsugarcoated the work that we in the US had done in the industry of clean energy and transportation. Can you elaborate? What’s happened since, in your estimation?Here’s a delicate question: Venturecapital, obviously, is about profit. But it certainly serves a purposein terms of bringing along ideas that benefit everyone. Do you agree?Can you speak to the role of VC on modern society as you see it?

There are various truisms that everyone knows about VC: fire in thebelly, an A team and a B idea is better than a B team with an A idea,etc. First of all, are these concepts actually true? I’m sure there’s agreat deal more to success here that a couple of platitudes. Do you mind sharing a few ideas that have, in fact, driven your amazing success?

What’s a good fit for you? For the entrepreneur? What synergies doyou like to see between the respective “wheelhouses?” I presume you want to see some alignment in viewpoint re:

Personal philosophy


Business plan

Exit strategy


Capital formation in clean energy in the US has been pretty feeble of late. Why is that? How do you see this changing?

Apparently, KP has an appetite for real transformational / revolutionary stuff, e.g., the Bloom Box. Can you tell me about that?

What about other unproven but potential game-changers?

Isn’t the migration to renewables just a question of when? What about grid parity?

Would you say that energy efficiency is easier to move forward than renewables?

We all wish we could get more job creation happening here in the US.But in the absence of that, what’s happening outside the US, where manycountries are taking aggressive action to move to renewables? Are wesimply building jobs in other countries and that our internationalFortune 25 companies, the GEs of the world, are indifferent to wheretheir products are made, sold, and deployed. Is that true?

What effect did the stimulus have? What should happen going forward here?

Are the fundamental factors in place for a recovery?

What advice would you give entrepreneurs in this space?