Monday, October 17, 2011

Poetry to me!

Nancy Pfund: Solyndra notwithstanding, energy subsidies are as old as the Republic - San Jose Mercury News

The bankruptcy filing by solar panel manufacturer Solyndra is grist for many controversies. While some of them are narrowly political, others involve legitimate policy questions that deserve a full airing. It's fair to ask, for example, why the government is subsidizing alternate energy sources in the first place. Shouldn't that be better left to the free market?

As it happens, the Obama administration is not the first to have the idea of giving the economy a boost by helping out a promising new energy source. To the contrary, energy subsidies have been a constant in American history, literally going back to the country's earliest days, and have been crucial in America's overall economic development.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

This is the model of the future

In a recent NY Times article I found the description of what the near future looks like... And, by the way, for all you doubters out there: it's profitable!

"Ancient Italian Town Has Wind at Its Back" ( talks about Tocco Da Casauria a small town that has developed enough alternative energy power to sell electricity back to the grid and make a profit.

Something to admire and replicate

Until next time...Shalom!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Personality of an Entrepeneur

Hello again!
I'm taking advice from friends and returning to my blog in an attempt to keep it alive, in order to do so, I will also post shorter articles. So enjoy:

Even though not specific to Greentech, a lot of my work as a Greentech fund manager pertains to entrepreneurs and their ability to perform.

In the Sunday Business section of the NY Times I found two interesting articles.

The first one describes the "obsessive compulsive" personality that an entrepreneur should have to be successful. And, even though I don't subscribe 100% to this profile, there are a lot of interesting elements described in the article:

"Just Manic Enough: seeking the perfect entrepreneur"

The second article is a short interview with Kevin O'Connor, he is a serial entrepreneur famous for founding DoubleClick. This short Q&A reflects the unique mentality that an entrepreneur has to have in order to come up with a unique product or service and to be able to execute on this idea.

Until next time, shalom!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Israel G-Tek adds three exceptional companies to its portfolio

US based Israel G-Tek LLC - a private equity fund investing in early stage greentech companies - has added three companies to its portfolio: Bloom Energy, Fisker Automotive and Serious Materials.

The recent investment brings the number of portfolio companies to four - IQwind ( being the first one. Uri Benhamron and Sami Shiro are very excited to break the news. "This adds alternative power generation, electric hybrid vehicles and green building materials to our portfolio, and it starts to bring to life our investment strategy" Mr Benhamron said.

Furthermore, these companies are on a solid path towards growth, with strong possibilities of IPO or a large M&A deal. Here are some details on the three companies:

Bloom Energy

Bloom Energy builds solid oxide fuel cells: Bloom Energy Server™ is a new class of distributed power generator, producing clean, reliable, affordable electricity at the customer site.

Fuel cells are devices that convert fuel into electricity through a clean electro-chemical process rather than dirty combustion. They are like batteries except that they always run. Our particular type of fuel cell technology is different than legacy "hydrogen" fuel cells in four main ways:
1 - Low cost materials – their cells use a common sand-like powder instead of precious metals like platinum or corrosive materials like acids.
2 - High electrical efficiency – they can convert fuel into electricity at nearly twice the rate of some legacy technologies
3 - Fuel flexibility – their systems are capable of using either renewable or fossil fuels
4 - Reversible – their technology is capable of both energy generation and storage

For more information on Bloom, please watch the following 60 Minutes clip:

Fisker Automotive

Fisker Automotive is a green American premium sports car company with a mission to create a range of beautiful environmentally friendly cars that make environmental sense without compromise.

They are in the early stages of their product launch, a four door sports sedan with “series plug-in electric” engine (which uses an engine only to recharge the battery – as opposed to the Prius which is a “Parallel Hybrid” and alternates power to the wheels from both engine and battery)
Sales expected to start in 2011 and ramp up to several billion in 2014, including the launching of NINA their second, lower priced model.

Recent activity in this arena includes a partnership announcement of Toyota with Tesla (, and the tremendous success of the Nissan Leaf full electric vehicle ( In addition Tesla has filed for an IPO of $100MM in January (

This car is a higher class competitor to GM’s Volt, which has similar technology and will probably be in the market late in 2010 after much noise and speculation

The Karma:

Serious Materials

Serious Materials develops and manufactures sustainable green building materials that dramatically reduce the impact of the “built environment” on the climate

The company’s slogan of “.. aiming for breakthroughs in product performance, without requiring changes in customer behavior or in how products are used – thus speeding market adoption.”, combined with the market tide and regulatory incentives and reforms that will propel green construction standards as well as retrofitting is the key for the success of this company.

Currently they offer the following products to the market:

EcoRock: 5x Environmentally friendly than Gypsum

QuietRock: The most reliable soundproofing drywall

Serious Windows: Saves more energy than any other window, period.

QuietCoat: noise-reduction compounds. These are used in millions of personal computers, in cars, and more.

Serious Materials provided the windows for the retrofitting of the Empire State Building (

Israel G-Tek LLC contact info:
Sami Shiro
Uri Benhamron

Monday, March 22, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Kleiner Perkins’ Greentech Portfolio

I have been playing with this idea for some time and I finally decided to give it a go.

The idea is to try and learn from the “big guys”. Even though Kleiner Perkins (KPCB) has different investment objectives and methods than Israel G-Tek LLC or ABA Greentech Fund PLC they are definitely at the forefront of VC investing.

I want to try and learn the status of the KPCB Greentech portfolio. To do this I will refer to the companies listed in their website (if other companies exist under the radar – too bad)

Let’s start!:

Altarock Energy Inc:

What is it? AltaRock has filed patent applications for a portfolio of patents in the geothermal energy area and holds exclusive licenses for related intellectual property.


December 11, 2009: Geothermal Project in California Is Shut Down (NY Times)

November 16, 2009: AltaRock Geothermal Gets New Boost. The DOE will sink $25 million into an “engineered” geothermal demonstration project in Oregon being developed in part by AltaRock Energy (Green Inc)

Amyris Biotechnologies:

What is it? Amyris has very fuzzy description of itself. The short story is this: they make Renewable Fuels (Diesel and Jet Fuel from sugar cane using synthetic microorganisms), Malaria Treatment (bioengineered process to obtain the vaccine) and other Chemicals (???)


December 21, 2009: Changes in management: New COO and new Chief Commercial Officer (is there trouble or is it just growth?)

December 08, 2009: Letters of intent with 3 sugar and ethanol companies in Brazil. Amyris will distribute their product and also experiment to enhance production.

December 3, 2009: Amyris Biotechnologies, Inc., announced that it intends to acquire a 40% stake in the Boa Vista mill, an ethanol-producing mill owned and operated by the São Martinho Group, one of the largest and most efficient sugar and ethanol producers in Brazil. The parties will work together to convert this mill to produce Amyris renewable products with first production targeted for the 2011-2012 harvest season

August 21, 2009: Amyris, which makes biofuels from synthetic microorganisms, said today it edged a little closer to the finish line, acknowledging a $24.7 million first close of a potential $62 million Series C to ramp up its synthetic biology platform.


What is it? Ausra designs, manufactures and installs solar steam generators (solar thermal energy)


January 29, 2009: Ausra announced that it no longer plans to build massive solar thermal plants across the southwest and California desert due to poor economic conditions, shifting its focus to smaller-scale power generation plants. Ausra’s new strategy came with its share of layoffs — about a dozen of its 108 employees have been trimmed from the staff since December. Several executives have also chosen to depart.

November 17, 2009: Ausra Solar Looking for a Buyer

November 5, 2009: First Solar will not build the 1,000 megawatts Carrizo project, and the deal has resulted in the cancellation of Ausra’s contract to provide 177 megawatts to P.G.& E

Bloom Energy:

What is it? (no information on the website) Bloom boxes, when hooked up to a renewable power source such as a wind turbine or solar panel, makes and stores hydrogen and oxygen. And at night or when the wind dies down, it changes direction and uses the stored gases to make electricity.(Bloom's system relies primarily on oxygen rather than hydrogen)

From LinkedIn:Bloom Energy, Inc. provides solid oxide fuel cell technology and products for distributed electricity and hydrogen generation. Bloom Energy, Inc. was founded as Ion America, Inc. and changed its name to Bloom Energy, Inc. in September 2006. The company is based in Sunnyvale, California


December 7, 2009: The company won't comment on reports that the city of San Jose recently granted online auction giant eBay (EBAY) permission to install five fuel cells from Bloom Energy that will generate up to 500 kilowatts of power, nor that search giant Google (GOOG) is separately testing the system. But Bloom Energy does confirm it's aiming its initial systems at business customers that want to explore whether they can get reliable green energy at the same price or less than they now pay the electric company.

October 8th, 2009:Bloom is targeting the transportation industry in the company’s grand vision “Our device can either produce the electricity that will charge the car or provide you hydrogen if the transportation becomes a hydrogen based. So we’ve sort of become the gas station for the transportation industry.”

Fisker Automotive:

What is it? Premium sports car company with a mission to create a range of beautiful environmentally friendly cars (mostly Hybrid and electric – for now)


December 4th 2009: What does Joe Biden have to do with Fisker Automotive? On the surface, the answer would seem to be nothing at all.. or at least it did until the Vice President himself revealed the startup automaker's plans to introduce a new series of electric vehicles under the Project Nina banner. Not only that, Fisker just so happens to have decided to build cars in Biden's home state of Delaware. Coincidence?

December 3rd 2009: No one but the hopelessly naive will be surprised to learn that production of Fisker’s Karma will not be hitting customers hands by the end of this month (as once promised). For a company that was only founded two years ago, to get an all-new design engineered and produced in 18 months is a near impossibility. The new target for the for the Karma sedan to hit dealers in the U.S. is September of 2010. Fisker has lined up 42 dealers in the U.S. to sell and service the Karma, along with three European distributors that will provide cars to about 100 dealers there

GreatPoint Energy:

What is it? GreatPoint Energy, Inc. engages in commercializing a process for converting coal into natural gas. The company’s product, bluegas converts feedstock into natural gas


August 13, 2009: GreatPoint Energy Inc., which built a 200-foot-tall coal-to-natural-gas test facility in Somerset, Ma on the campus of the Brayton Point Power Station, will take the results of its testing and build a full-sized conversion facility in Texas. Building a full-scale production facility will probably take three or four years

April 27, 2009: GreatPoint Energy Inc. and Dow Chemical Co. announced the signing of an agreement giving Dow Chemical Co. the option to purchase natural gas from GreatPoint Energy-developed facilities

Hara Software:

What is it? Hara provides environmental and energy management solutions which help organizations grow and profit while optimizing natural resource consumption and reducing environmental impact


May 31, 2009: If Congress passes legislation that puts a price on carbon emissions, companies will need to track and report the waste from their operations. Hara, a start-up that on Monday will start selling software to help businesses measure and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

November 19, 2009: Hara Software Inc. announced that News Corporation has selected Hara to help reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions

Kotak Urja:

What is it? (website was down!) India's leading Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal Energy Solutions provider. Kotak Urja Pvt. Ltd. engages in the design, manufacture, and installation of solar based equipments in lighting and heating systems


June 9, 2009: First 'Green' Commonwealth games, the commite decided to install Solar Water Heater in the Commonwealth Village in Delhi. Kotak Urja Pvt Ltd, Banglore has been awarded the contract to install solar water heaters.

October 31 2008: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Sherpalo Ventures and a US company have invested $8 million in renewable energy company Kotak Urja Pvt Ltd

Lehigh Technologies:

What is it? Lehigh Technologies recycles tire rubber into fine, engineered powders with performance and cost advantages to rubber and specialty chemicals. Its powders can be used to extend the availability of rubber, improve existing product performance, create new specialty products and inspire innovation in sustainability.


April 16, 2009: Lehigh Technologies, LLC announced the appointment of Kedar Murthy, Vice President and General Manager of Tire and Rubber, and Frank Papp, Technical Manager of Tire and Rubber

(No news is good news?!)

Lilliputian Systems:

What is it? Miniature fuel cells for portable electronic devices and wireless applications. No formal products yet


April 2, 2009: Lilliputian Systems secured $28 million in new funding from new and existing investors. Returning investors include Atlas Venture of Waltham, Fairhaven Capital of Cambridge,  Rockport Capital of Boston and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers of California

Mascoma Corporation:

What is it? Biofuel company that produces cellulosic ethanol made from wood and switchgrass (warm season grass native to North America). (Still in research stage)


January 7, 2010: Mascoma Corporation today announced the appointment of William J. Brady as the new Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately (trouble in paradise?)

October 5, 2009: Mascoma Corporation today announced that the company has made major research advances in consolidated bioprocessing, or CBP, a low-cost processing strategy for production of biofuels from cellulosic biomass


What is it? MiaSolé is a pioneer in the development of Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) thin film photovoltaic products. Our goal is to enable grid parity solar energy by 2012 through high volume manufacturing of low cost solar modules


Company History (from Wikipedia): Miasolé was founded by veterans of the hard disk industry who leveraged their expertise in hard disk manufacturing to introduce new manufacturing processes into the thin-film solar industry. [3] In December 2006, the company's CEO announced that 50MW of manufacturing capacity as well as an IPO is imminent but the company failed to deliver on the milestone. In September 2007, semiconductor equipment executive Joseph Laia was brought in as CEO to move the company to volume production. [4] The company has 40 MW of production capacity at its Santa Clara facility, and claims that as of May 2008 it was making modules at 9% to 10% efficiencies on those production tools. The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory has since independently verified two 10% Miasolé CIGS modules.[5] At this time, none of the company's founders is with the company any longer. Kannan Ramanathan, who served as chief research officer at Miasolé from 2006 to 2008 has left the company in November 2008.Dave Pearce stepped down as CEO and helped hire Joseph Laia. Mr. Pearce then left the company to startup another solar company called Nuvosun

December 16, 2009: MiaSolé Breaks the silence, moves into production. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company – which has maintained a low profile in the market for the last year and a half – started to send its solar panels to customers for them to check out the products' performance in June this year. The company now has a factory with an annual production capacity of 60 megawatts, and is in the process of expanding that to 140 megawatts. MiaSolé has raised at least $300 million in venture capital since its inception in 2001


What is it? RecycleBank partners with cities and haulers to reward households for recycling (offices in New York City and Philadelphia). Households earn RecycleBank Points that can be used to shop at over 1,500 local and national businesses.


December 02, 2009: Philadelphia will unveil its latest ambitious recycling initiative Thursday, an incentive-based program that city officials say could reward households $240 a year for their participation and save the city millions of dollars in landfill fees.

November 16, 2009: Waste Connections of Kansas and RecycleBank Team Up with the City of Derby to Increase Recycling Volumes

RPX Corporation:

What is it? RPX Corporation is a member-based Defensive Patent Aggregation service that mitigates members’ risk against litigation from non-practicing entities (NPEs) -- also called patent trolls -- which acquire patents for the sole purpose of licensing and asserting their patent rights (WHY IS THIS IN THE GREENTECH PORTFOLIO??)

Silver Spring Networks, Inc.:

What is it? Building the smart grid will require the products and services of multiple technology providers. The Silver Spring Smart Energy Platform provides the network, software, and services needed as the foundation


DECEMBER 15, 2009: Silver Spring Networks Inc. secured $100 million in a new round of financing to help the company expand its smart-grid business in the U.S. and abroad

September 9, 2009: Silver Spring Network CEO says considering IPO, but not this year .Says they have not discussed any acquisition with Cisco. Sees 2010 as strong year for bookings

December 8, 2009: AT&T Announces Teaming Agreement With Silver Spring Networks. Agreement Simplifies 3G Wireless Connectivity for Silver Spring's Solutions for U.S. Electric Utilities


What is it? Verdiem Corporation develops and sells power management software for PC networks in North America. Its products include SURVEYOR, an enterprise PC energy management solution that allows organizations to manage and measure energy consumption on PC networks; Edison, an energy monitoring application, which enables consumers to control PC's energy consumption and household's carbon dioxide emissions; and Computer Energy Consumption Analysis that assesses the current energy consumption of networked PCs. The company serves school districts, colleges, universities, government agencies, and corporations


January 4th, 2010: Verdiem has raised $4.71 million of a $5.93 million round from investors including Kleiner Perkins and Catamount Ventures, according to a filing with the SEC. The Seattle-based company was founded in 2001 and as of 2007 had raised a total of $15 million.

December 30, 2009: Marshall & Ilsley Corporation Partners with Verdiem and Reduces PC Energy Consumption

December 18, 2009: Verdiem Corporation announced that John Scumniotales has joined Verdiem as Vice President of Engineering to lead the company's product development organization

January 27, 2009: Cisco Systems announced today the release of software developed in partnership with Seattle-based Verdiem to automatically save energy in idling computers, phones, networked devices, and eventually, whole buildings

On the next opportunity I will try to analyze this porfolio to draw some conclusions. Until then, SHALOM and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Greentech business and climate change

First of all I would like to apologize to my “audience” for being absent since August (I can’t believe it’s been that long!).

The truth is we have been very busy in Israel G-Tek; we have executed our first investment in a wind turbine technology company IQWind which was recently named top 100 cleantech company of the world; we are also in the process of negotiating other deals.

Since August I attended the Boston Cleantech forum, went on a business trip to San Diego and then went on to Israel to, amongst other things, be part of Watech (one of the largest water and alternative energy conferences).

Also, since August the book Start-Up Nation came out, becoming an unintended marketing campaign for our fund.


First of all I want to disclose that I don’t consider myself a “tree-hugger”; my business associate is even less of a believer than me, he is into Greentech because he wants to stop oil dollars from going to countries such as Iran and Venezuela.

Regardless of your beliefs in climate change, there is a direct correlation between the truth of climate change and the future of greentech. More specifically, the relation is between people’s perception of climate change and the future of greentech (like my marketing expert wife says “perception is reality”)

Recent scandals in the scientific community have placed a black veil over climate change, bringing more people into the “doubters” side of the equation. But, what if I told you that we are in an almost irreversible path to wipe out humanity from the face of the earth?

If there was undeniable proof of extremely negative consequences, then people’s actions and business decisions would be very different. Perhaps CNN’s show will shed some light into this issue (Dec 9 CNN 8pm EST “Global Warming: Trick or Truth”).

The ugly truth is that the cards have already been played. We are not changing fast enough to prevent a global catastrophe (remember: we need to counter carbon emissions and pollution at a faster rate than they grow PLUS revert the existing damage already affecting the globe; in other words: the counter action has to be many times greater than the existing trend). Therefore we are set in a path to possible human annihilation (I am not exaggerating), our only hope is that we would be able to partially save ourselves with “last minute measures” or that the whole thing of climate change is a scam. What do you think?