Ray Lane of Kleiner Perkins Discusses Greentech Investing

I just finished moderating a panel at the Always On Venture Summitin Menlo Park, CA with some heavy-hitter investment pros in the worldof Greentech Venture Capital.

  • Ray Lane of Kleiner Perkins
  • Marianne Wu of Mohr Davidow
  • Jennifer Fonstad of Draper Fisher Jurvetson
  • Michael Dannaher of WSGR
  • Duncan Williams of Wedbush Morgan Securities

In looking for a theme in Greentech VC investing, Ray Lane of KPsaid the last few years was the "Age of Innocence," this year was the"Battle for Middle Earth" and from now on it’s "Back to the Future." All the panelists seemed hopeful about the future and glad to see 2009in the rearview mirror.  We are going to see "more rational investment"from VCs going forward according to Lane.

Lane said that everyyear the partners at KP list areas they’d like to consider investing inand water and algae biofuels always make the list.  The problem is "Youhave to kiss a lot of frogs" to find the right investment in thosesectors .  They continue to look.

Mr. Lane also alluded to their stealth vehicle firm V-Vehicle, covered by GTM here. He stressed that cars need to be built for specific regions andAmericans don’t like tiny cars.  V-Vehicle will be building carsdirectly targeted at the American market.  Lane suggested we take alook at The Electrification Coalition,a not-for-profit group focused on bringing electric vehicles to massscale in order to combat the economic, environmental, and nationalsecurity risks caused by our dependence on petroleum.

On thesubject of rational investments Lane spoke about how start-ups havebegun moving from ambitions of being power suppliers to equipmentsuppliers.  Ausramight be a good example here, moving from solar thermal energy providerto solar thermal equipment provider.  Ausra actually has a few"strategics chasing them," and in Lane’s words, "a lot of liquidity ingreentech will happen this way as legacy players look for companiesthat have removed technical risk, but don’t have the balance sheet toscale."

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