Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category:
Source: Associated Press
2010 college freshman say in four years e-mail and the wrist watch, among other things, will have gone the way of the horse and buggy.
The Class of 2014 thinks of Clint Eastwood more as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry urging punks to “go ahead, make my day.” Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch.
These are among the 75 items on this year’s Beloit College Mindset List. The compilation, released Tuesday, is assembled each year by two officials at this private school of about 1,400 students in Beloit, Wis.
The list is meant to remind teachers that cultural references familiar to them might draw blank stares from college freshmen born mostly in 1992.
Of course, it can also have the unintended consequence of making people feel old.
Remember when Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Dan Quayle or Rodney King were in the news? These kids don’t.
Ever worry about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.? During these students’ lives, Russians and Americans have always been living together in outer space.
Being aware of the generation gap helps professors craft lesson plans that are more meaningful, said Ron Nief, a former public affairs director at Beloit College and one of the list’s creators.
Nief and English professor Tom McBride have assembled the Mindset List for 13 years. They say it’s given them an unusual perspective on cultural shifts.
For example, as item No. 13 on the list says, “Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.”
With far edgier content available today, such as “South Park” or online videos that push the envelope, there’s something quaint about recalling the hand-wringing that the MTV cartoon prompted, Nief said.
“I think we do that with every generation — we look back and say, what were we getting so upset about?” he said. “A, kids outgrow it and B, in retrospect we realize it really wasn’t that bad.”
Everything from the way kids make purchase for theater tickets to the popularity of techno music can be filtered through the concept of generational change. But the graduates of 2014 also will be entering a workplace where they may work alongside 50-year-old workers and the commonality between the two may be nothing more than their community coffee alley or break room.
Another Mindset List item reflects a possible shift in Hollywood attitudes. Item No. 12 notes: “Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.”
A number of incoming freshmen said they partially agreed with the item, noting they were familiar with Eastwood’s work as an actor even if they hadn’t seen his films.
“I know he directed movies but I also know he’s supposed to be sort of bad-ass,” said Aaron Ziontz, 18, from Seattle.
Jessica Peck, a 17-year-old from Portland, Ore., disagreed with two items on the list — one that says few students know how to write in cursive, and another that suggests this generation seldom if ever uses snail mail.
“Snail mail’s kind of fun. When I have time I like writing letters to friends and family,” she said. “It’s just a bit more personal. And yes, I write in cursive.”
Peck did agree with the item pointing out that most teens have never used telephones with cords.
“Yes, I’ve used them but only at my grandparents’ house,” she said.
That’s the sort of comment that can make a person feel old. McBride jokes that he’s not immune from feeling ancient just because he compiles the items. But the 65-year-old said the lists can also reveal a larger truth about tolerance.
The NJ IT management guy in his 50s now was also considered an at-risk youth at one time or another, likely due to the influx of violence on TV, that ominous box that used to sit in the corner plugged in to a wall socket.
The “Beavis and Butt-head” item suggests that maybe parents shouldn’t overreact every time a controversy arises, he noted. For example, maybe it’s no big deal if college freshmen misspell words when they text, and maybe their attention spans will be just fine even though they grew up in the Internet age, he said.
“There’s something about the resilience of human nature that renders these gloom-and-doom prophesies moot after a while,” he said. “I can’t say for sure, but it looks like the track record of these very anxious prophets has not been impressive over the years.”
My Take: I love the reference above to the NJ IT consulting guy and the TV. It’s true, the TV is one thing that has definitely changed radically since the kids of 2014 were born. I predict that, even though they say we’ll soon be watching TV, surfing the net, chatting and e-mail and video conferencing all on one large screen in our living rooms, that nothing we do as consumers will ever be the same, whether that’s concert tickets, downloading house music, booking a cruise or even ordering a pizza.
Items that can be Inspected
When designing a machine vision or inspection system, there are a number of different types of defects which can be considered and detected by the average automated inspection system. By scanning the surface of an item the system can detect whether there are items such as chips or bubbles within the surface or whether any scratches or dents have impacted the integrity of the surface. Assuring that all products are going to conform to specific standards regarding imperfections and other accepted surface defect issues is best handled by an automated system that can measure current characteristics.
Playing Volleyball Well
When learning to play volleyball there are a lot of things that a person must remember if they are to learn to be a player to be reckoned with and for anyone who is lucky to have a volleyball set at home on which to practice, there are some good things to start with that will get someone on the way to playing some great volleyball. First of all, it’s important to keep one’s eyes on the situation at all times. Looking off into the distance or off to the side just won’t do when there’s a volleyball bring thrown around the area.
Ensuring Mold is Gone
One of the issues that some home owners face regarding their ability to keep the mold in their home from growing back is an improper ventilation setup inside an area that has been treated by a New Jersey mold clean up crew. Mold can be a pesky thing to remove and ensure it remains gone and this is why it’s best to consult with a mold removal agency to ensure that after a cleanup has occurred that there won’t be a return of the mold due to a humid environment persisting that can make it rather difficult to keep mold away.
Home or Professional Whitening
One of the most significant aspects of being confident in one’s looks is having a beautiful smile and even if someone maintains their teeth well throughout their life they might end up having to deal with a gradual yellowing of the teeth which can be rather difficult to deal with without the assistance of a Springfield VA dentist. There are some store-bought options for whitening one’s teeth, but they aren’t always something that works as well as what a dentist can do and sometimes they’re rather expensive anyway. To avoid the hassle of repeated whitening at home, a dentist visit is advisable.
Printing is More Advanced
With the plethora of digital options regarding graphics and other promotional items, some individuals might believe that the art of printing and offering graphics on paper or in books is an art that has been lost, but the interesting thing about a modern Long Island printing service is that the options for printing within such a facility have actually gotten more advanced over the past few years. While it’s not rocket science to create a beautiful printout, doing such is still something that tends to require some additionally advanced machinery and techniques than it did in the past.
Getting Rid of Pet Fur
There are a ton of different things that a pet owner has to be aware of such as cleaning the litter box for a cat or taking a dog out for a walk each morning, but there are some neat as seen on TV products that can help with the pet fur that seems to always cover all of the surfaces inside a pet owner’s house. The Shed Pal is a terrific hand held vacuum that helps to groom a pet safely while also removing all of that pesky loose fur that would otherwise end up on the couches and invariably on a person’s black or dark clothing.
Online Betting Options
There are many different types of betting options out there and for anyone who is looking for a great way to bet on sports without taking a huge hit financially, one of the best ways to do so is to utilize sports betting that’s actually based on a system and not just on a shot in the dark or a guess. Betting these days can be a rather complex operation and due to how much time is spent researching various types of betting there is a lot of work that can be done to make the process a little more scientific.
Video Game Music
Many people consider modern classical music to be something that is wholly in control of the movies these days and an interesting amount of discourse has cropped up in recent years regarding video games and the music on such games. Many people will tend to trade in games after they’ve played them, but they will actually go out and buy the soundtracks to those games and keep them to listen to then later. It would appear that listening to music that was composed for a video game has become very popular for many people in recent years.
Educating One’s Self on Radiation
There are a lot of dangers out there today that some people suggest are just a simple part of life, but there are indeed some dangers that can be reduced or alleviated either through specific behavior or changes in the machinery that people use. One item of concern is the increase in the radiation coming from today’s cell phones and in the last few years cell phone radiation protection technology has gotten fairly advanced and simple to use so that anyone seeking such protections would be able to engage such a device without a lot of hassle.
Cited: The American Lawyer
Many people of the last generation do not believe that law firms change. This seems to be an arrogant and naïve point of view because change is inevitable as well as ongoing. For success, whether law firm or retailer, comes because there is someone that was able to manage change effectively in the past. Law firms operate through central consensus model of decision-making, which means that most law firms are not set up to manage change well. However, various areas of change and innovation to exist within law firms and give them the ability to sort through the good and the bad from normal organizational processes.
Recently, the opportunity to talk with two leading law firm innovators about how technology is likely to impact the practice of law in the next few years presented itself. John Alber is the technology partner and head of the client technology group at Bryan Cave in St. Louis. Mary Abraham, counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York, helps lead the firm’s knowledge management efforts. John and Mary recently returned from the International Legal Technology Association conference, the leading peer networking organization for legal technologists.
What were the top presentations at ILTA?
John Alber: Since I was on the conference committee, that’s like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. I have to say that I was very keen on the “futures” presentations done with [Oxford professor and Scottish legal futurist] Richard Susskind, not the least because I had the privilege of working with Richard in one of them. I was also taken with the many manifestations of social media at the conference. There were many sessions treating the phenomenon, a reflection of its increasing prominence in the legal public mind. I find social networking is on the tongues (if not the fingertips) of many lawyers.
What do you predict will be three key technology-driven changes in law over the next 24 months, based on what you saw at ILTA?
JA: I think enterprise search is finally here. I saw widespread recognition that tools like Recommind and other enterprise search platforms can, and should, do far more than simply help find documents. They are becoming the foundations of our knowledge enterprises. I found social media to be red-hot, which is both a reflection of its presence in the public mind and a function of its utility in the modern enterprise. I think we’ll see a rapid uptick in social media use.
Mary Abraham: If Richard Susskind is correct, the firms that embrace the current economic challenges as more than temporary discipline, and then use those challenges as incentive to understand and improve the way they deliver client services, will enjoy an enormous competitive advantage. So the first key change will be a perceptible gap between firms with “disruptive technology” (technology that creates change in organizations and business models, as first described in Clayton Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma”) and those without. This gap could be widened if Susskind’s observation proves true that lawyers are more concerned about suffering a competitive disadvantage than having a competitive advantage. (In other words, he believes that most lawyers would rather keep up with the pack than forge ahead.)
The second key change will occur in the way lawyers interact with clients. At ILTA the in-house counsel presentations and several law firm presentations pointed to a mode of operating in which firms offer a greater degree of transparency and access to their clients during a matter. One firm talked about providing a real-time collection of all e-mail correspondence between the client and the firm. Another firm supplied online tools that allowed clients to analyze problems and create specific documents. Several others enabled clients to generate progress reports at will on projects those firms were carrying out.
The third key change will occur in law firms. The drive to contain costs should push firms to find more efficient ways to share knowledge and speed the delivery of client services. The obvious answer is to increase transparency within the firm, not only among lawyers but also among administrative personnel. From the perspective of a knowledge manager, this will be a huge leap forward, since a firm that has easy access to what it knows can provide better service more efficiently. The key here is the need for cost containment, which should move firms away from expensive to maintain databases and document repositories toward simpler and cheaper ways of exchanging information, perhaps through the use of social media tools.
With regard to social media, it looks like Mary is a believer. I noticed you were Twittering from ILTA. What was that about?
MA: I’ve always been an active note-taker at meetings. At a different conference earlier in the year, I discovered that if I packed my notes into a series of 140-character nuggets, then people who were unable to attend could follow along. The power of this became evident when a panelist at that earlier conference provided some inaccurate information, which I reported. Within moments, the correct information was sent to me via Twitter from someone 500 miles away who had been reading the Twitter updates. I then passed the correct information on to everyone attending the panel presentation. As the discussion continued, people outside the conference tweeted their questions, which were then put to the panelists. This allowed for a richer, multidimensional conversation among the panelists, the conference attendees and the people following the session around the world via Twitter.
This year many people who normally would have attended ILTA were unable to because of budget constraints. ILTA responded by asking several of us to blog and tweet conference sessions, thereby sharing widely the benefits of the conference. My understanding is that ILTA was sufficiently impressed by the value of these efforts that there will be more use of social media by the organization going forward.
What did you think of Richard Susskind’s presentation?
MA: Richard Susskind has a great gift for making one think differently about the practice of law. And that’s exactly what I went to ILTA to find. While I had heard much of his talk before, I found that I listened differently in light of the economic pressures facing the legal industry. This time, I was particularly struck by his statement that we lawyers need to take a harder look at the components of the service we deliver to our clients. It was his contention that until we actually know what elements of that service can be standardized or automated and what elements truly must be tailor-made to suit a client, we won’t be able to make intelligent, facts-based choices about how to improve our client service. Obviously, a key component of this is understanding exactly what it costs your firm to deliver a particular service. In this regard, I was very impressed by the work done by John Alber and Constance Hoffman at Bryan Cave to analyze the costs of client service and then model the impact of changing specific elements of that service in order to make it more efficient and cost-effective. Based on the audience reaction to their presentations, I suspect there are not nearly enough law firms in this country that are able to do something similar.
How are firms implementing these changes?
MA: It may be a little too early to tell. From what I heard at ILTA, most law firms have spent the first year of the new economic reality trying to cut and contain costs. While this always is a useful exercise, it isn’t the best or only solution to what may well be a fundamental challenge to the way we practice law. The ILTA presentations indicate that there is a path firms will have to travel: from cost-cutting and discounting, to detailed cost analysis and, finally, to rethinking how we work together with clients to deliver services. One danger is that zealous cost-cutting may deprive firms of the creative resources (both people and tools) necessary to re-imagine the practice of law. That would be a pity, since many of Richard Susskind’s recommendations require enormous creativity, coupled with the ability to question the premises that underpin the last several centuries of legal practice.
The only other challenge to a law firm is technology which can provide assistance in delivering client services effectively. However, economic circumstances may make that change a little difficult today. This just means that lawyers and techs alike will have to work together and share their ingenuity to improve client services with existing tools in new ways. The ILP a conference has already shown many how this does not have to be hard, but a little bit easier.
My Take: Technology has become more and more important in the practice of law in more ways than one. For example, at one time a Los Angeles court reporter used a stereotype or shorthand machine to type out every word spoken in a court room. Today, that same reporter can offer litigation support services in LA over the Internet.
A good example for technology working for a law firm would be when a couple is divorcing and they live in separate states. One spouse has a divorce attorney and the other has a divorce lawyer. With today’s technology, the child custody lawyer can easily communicate with the family lawyers resolve issues as well as save money on telephone calls or faxes.
Visalia, Calif. police prepared for a dangerous high-speed chase after a thief carjacked an SUV at gunpoint. As the police officers swung their cruisers behind the sport utility vehicle the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe sped up with officers in pursuit. However, shortly after the suspect made a right turn, the onboard OnStar service at General Motors Company sent a command that disabled the gas pedal that caused the SUV to gradually come to a halt, avoiding a dangerous high-speed chase. With the vehicle disabled, the frustrated thief got out and ran. He was captured after climbing several fences and falling into a backyard swimming pool according to police
It was the first time since OnStar began offering the service in the 2009 model year that it was used to end a chase that could otherwise have had dire consequences.
“He wouldn’t have pulled over if OnStar hadn’t have shut the vehicle down,” said Visalia Police Sgt. Steve Phillips. “Generally, pursuits end in a collision.”
The whole thing began when Jose Ruiz, 33, of nearby Lindsay, Calif., was sitting in his Tahoe in a lighted parking lot about 3 a.m. October 18 while his cousin was talking on a cell phone in the passenger seat. Out of the corner of his eye, Ruiz saw a man walking toward him.
“He already had a gun out,” Ruiz said Monday.
The man pointed a sawed-off shotgun at Ruiz and ordered both men to get out of the Tahoe and empty their pockets. Ruiz’s cousin at first refused, but Ruiz told him to obey, knowing that OnStar could find the stolen truck with a global positioning system.
“I was afraid he was going to shoot my cousin. My cousin was arguing with him,” Ruiz recalled.
The cousin relented and the man sped off in the truck. Ruiz then sprinted for a nearby pay telephone to call police, but ran into a sheriff’s deputy on her break who notified Visalia police.
Officers quickly contacted OnStar and got Ruiz’s permission to find the vehicle. Police spotted it a few miles away, but as officers made a U-turn to pursue it, the Tahoe sped off at a high speed, Phillips said. The suspect made a turn, and police dispatchers told the pursuing officers that OnStar was about to disable the Tahoe. It then rolled to a halt, and the robber was quickly captured.
The 21-year-old suspect was jailed and faces preliminary charges of robbery, carjacking, possession of stolen property and resisting arrest.
OnStar President Walt Dorfstatter said it took only 16 minutes from the time OnStar was notified for the vehicle to be stopped. Visalia Police Chief Colleen Mestas said the new technology kept officers, other motorists and even the suspect out of a dangerous chase.
“Considering the violent crime that this suspect was wanted for, I was just amazed,” she said.
Police chases often end in death, many times for the people in the pursued vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last year, 334 people were killed nationwide in crashes that stemmed from police pursuits, including five police officers, 235 people in the chased vehicles and 77 who were in cars or trucks not involved in the chases.
Ruiz said police returned his Tahoe, cell phone and wallet to him that night. The only thing they didn’t get back was some cash taken from his cousin.
Mestas hopes that both technology like OnStar as well as more police aircraft will help minimize the dangers of chases in the future whose city is about 50 miles southeast of Fresno.
“It would be nice to have a day in law enforcement that you didn’t have to actively pursue suspects at high speeds,” she said.
Not all GM vehicles have the stolen vehicle slowdown feature yet. GM hopes to expand as models are updated. The feature is on 18 of the 30 2010 models equipped with OnStar. OnStar is a communication service that not only gives directions but allows the driver to call for help if the vehicle is disabled or in a crash. It may take several years for all GM models to get the feature according to Dorfstatter.
My Take: When I heard about this incident, I started laughing. I would have loved to have been a fly on the windshield just to see the look on that thief’s when the car started to slow down and he could do nothing about it. Can you imagine if every car had this feature, how many lives would be saved?
More lives could be saved if people would attend an academy driving school NY to learn what the rules of the world really are and how to handle themselves if an accident should occur. The New York DMV even gives credit for points if people attend a driving school. In fact, online defensive driving courses are now available across the country. New Jersey even has an insurance rate reduction course available for drivers.
Cited: The Connecticut Law Tribune
An inventor who is known for his complex inventions, Triantafyllos Tafas from Rocky Hill Connecticut, has won an important legal and regulatory victory that could help small companies and individuals across the country in the future. Tafas started a suit back in 2007 against the US Patent and Trademark Office to start new rules from going into effect. Those rules were meant to strict the number of times an inventor could make revisions to a pending patent application.
Opponents of the rules, limiting so-called “continuations”, said they would hurt small businesses and individuals who could not afford the high cost of repeatedly filing for entirely new patents. “It was going to be an extremely costly exercise to be in compliance with those rules,” said Steven J. Moore, one of two attorneys at the Stamford office of Kelly, Drye & Warren who represented Tafas. The other is James E. Nealon.
Now, with a new administration in Washington, it’s clear that those proposed rules will never go into effect. On Oct.8, new patent office Commissioner David J. Kappos officially rescinded the highly controversial “anti-continuation” regulations, and moved to dismiss the lawsuit.
Co-plaintiff GlaxoSmithKlein, the pharmaceutical company whose challenge was combined with Tafas’ suit, agreed to dismiss the federal court challenge and vacate the matter. But while Tafas is agreeable to burying the hatchet, he’s not going that far. His attorneys have technical legal reasons for not joining in Glaxo’s motion to vacate; they believe it’s not legally possible to do so, under U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
Most patent lawyers from coast to coast breathed a sigh of relief when the demise of the proposed rules was announced. As one blogger put it, a long “nightmare” for patent lawyers nationally had come to an end. The proposed rules — which would have limited the number of continuations to three for each patent — had supporters, primarily in the information technology industry worried.
For example, eBay, the online auction giant, supported the rule change. Its assistant general counsel, Emily L. Ward, formally commented that a limit on continuations would help discourage the tactic of “submarining” in which an inventor changes the thrust of a patent to intersect with a lucrative new technological field, simply to exact license fees.
Additionally, U.S. Patent and Trademark officials said the continuation limitation would drastically reduce the amount of paperwork they would have to handle and, thus, help reduce a backlog of patent applications.
NO ‘MASSIVE SURPRISE’
Tafas, who emigrated from Greece in 1999 and lives in Rocky Hill, is the chief technologist for New Haven’s Ikonosys. There, he concentrates on technologies that detect cancer cells in biopsy samples. On his own time, he works on inventions to extend gas mileage in cars.
After the new regulations were first issued, in August 2007, Tafas and his lawyers won a stay that prevented them from going into effect Nov. 1, 2007. A federal judge found that the proposed rules exceeded the administrative authority of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and amounted to lawmaking by the executive agency.
After that, the patent office decided to appeal that ruling. During the public comment period, in-house lawyers and patent law firms registered their views on the proposal, which were predominantly negative, said Nealon. One of the most articulate critics was David J. Kappos, the assistant general counsel for IBM, in White Plains, N.Y. Well-regarded in the patent community, Kappos was appointed director of the Patent and Trademark Office in late summer.
Said Nealon: “He was actually quoted as saying the [Tafas and Glaxo lawsuit] could have been called Kappos v. Kappos,” because he had been an opponent of the rules before ascending to head the patent office, and becoming the new named defendant. Because Kappos had long been a critic of the rules, Nealon added, “It wasn’t a massive surprise to us that it turned out the way it did.”
Operating under the proposed rules would have been more cumbersome and expensive, said Moore, and “the only people who could bear them would be large corporations.” Abandoning the proposed rule changes helps small inventors and emerging companies that don’t have the capital to file multiple patents, he said.
In an Oct. 19 reply brief, Tafas’ lawyers explained why he readily backed dismissal of the case, but opposed the motion to vacate made jointly by Glaxo and the USPTO. Technically, Tafas’ ability to win attorneys fees’ and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act may be improved if the matter is not vacated, the lawyers noted. Furthermore, under U.S. Supreme Court case law, it is not clear that a losing party can move to vacate a matter simply by choosing not to appeal.
Kappos’ decision was applauded in Tafas’ brief. The PTO and the patent community aimed at “developing efficient solutions to the PTO’s backlog problems” was offered support by the inventor or believes that the PTO will find a resolution to its problems.
My Take: Somebody in that patent office was crazy to even think of that rule change. An invention is never complete, just ask any inventor. I do not know what is entailed in approving a patent, but there must be a better and quicker way to do it. Do they actually have to build a product to find out if it actually works to approve a patent?
I have heard that it takes years sometimes to get a patent approved. So there must be some detailed work involved in approving it. I know that a patent lawyer is completely different from a Denver criminal lawyer or even a Allegheny PA family attorney. They all go to law school, but a criminal lawyer Denver CO or a Pittsburgh divorce lawyer handle completely different cases.
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The race to pick the startups aiming to revolutionize clean tech has former Silicon Valley allies going head-to-head. John Doerr and Vinod Khosla have worked together for nearly 2 decades at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to build one of the most lucrative partnerships in venture capital business. Between them, they brought together Netscape Communications, Amazon.com (AMZN), and Google (GOOG), Juniper Networks (JNPR) and Cerent (CSCO).
Now the former colleagues are competing to fund the most promising startups in clean technology, a potentially lucrative but risky field many believe could lead to Silicon Valley’s next boom. Doerr, still at Kleiner, helped shift his firm’s focus from information technology to green investments a few years ago, with help from partner Bill Joy, former chief scientist at Sun Microsystems. Khosla, who left Kleiner five years back, just raised $1.1 billion from partners and institutional investors, giving his Khosla Ventures the heft to compete for the most capital-intensive deals. “These guys are in a race” for the most important green deals, says Paul Deninger, vice-chairman at investment bank Jefferies & Co. (JEF)
Kleiner is the established giant. The firm has raised a total of $5.9 billion since its founding in 1972 and, in addition to Doerr’s hits, helped launch America Online (TWX) and Genentech (DNA). Still, the firm is a relative newcomer to green investing. Khosla has been dabbling in such deals since he started his outfit in 2004. With his fresh capital, he is on the hunt for the most ambitious startups. “Our specialty is risk,” says Khosla. “Forget [hitting] singles. Lay it out there and take a swing. You may not get a very high percentage of hits, but you get a high slugging percentage.”
Khosla’s approach is to winnow losing ideas quickly before they consume too much cash, gambling that the surviving startups can score big. Whereas most venture capital firms budget for product-development milestones by the companies they invest in, Khosla Ventures uses metrics that forecast how much it will cost for startups to remove technical risks, tackling the toughest problems first. “We’ve developed a few tricks,” says Khosla.
Take Calera, a startup launched by Stanford University. Its goal is to reduce emissions by making cement that traps CO2 gas during manufacture. Khosla figures there’s a 10% chance his firm can make 100 times its eight-figure investment and a 90% chance the company will fail. That’s precisely the kind of prospect that draws his attention. “Sometimes we tell an entrepreneur, ‘Your project does not have enough risk for us,’” he says. “They look at you kind of funny.”
Many of the startups Khosla has backed aim to collect power from the sun, harvest it from the wind, or extract it from the earth. Soladigm makes glass windows that can lighten or darken to heat or cool rooms, and GreatPoint Energy converts coal into natural gas. Others are trying to invent more efficient motors and batteries. EcoMotors International in Troy, Mich., for instance, makes light, powerful diesel engines.
Kleiner is making similar investments. Its deals include hybrid sportscar maker Fisker Automotive, smart grid company Silver Spring Networks, and Bloom Energy, which is developing a fuel cell that can convert natural gas into hydrogen fuel.
Both companies say this is a friendly competition. In fact, Khosla and Kleiner have co-invested in several deals. “I spend more time with [Doerr] now than I did when we were at Kleiner,” Khosla says. Still, he acknowledges that both want to be first to find and build the world’s most influential green-tech startups.
The competition could help speed the development of green technologies. Although the industry is perceived to be full of promise, it’s fraught with challenges, too. The field is marked by high startup costs, powerful customers and competitors, and government regulations that can change unpredictably. Venture capitalists scaled back their clean-tech investments during the downturn, putting $1.6 billion into such startups during the first three quarters of 2009, vs. $3.1 billion during the same period in 2008, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Assn.
So far this year only two North American clean-tech companies, Canadian geothermal outfit Magma Energy and battery maker A123 Systems (AONE), have gone public, and there have been just nine acquisitions worth more than $10 million in the market, according to investment bank Jefferies. Funding energy companies “is a difficult and new experience for many VCs,” says Adam Grosser, a general partner at venture firm Foundation Capital.
Both Khosla Ventures and Kleiner have made losing bets. The firms invested in ethanol maker AltraBiofuels, which late last year closed one factory and suspended production at another after raising $170 million. Ethanol producers have stumbled due to overproduction and demand that declined as the price of gasoline fell. Khosla Ventures wrote off the investment and lost money. “If people want instant gratification, they’re going to be disappointed,” says Ted Schlein, a managing partner at Kleiner Perkins.
Patience may well pay off. Entrepreneurs say Khosla, now that he has deep pockets to go along with his aggressive investment approach, could help develop a new generation of green startups. “[Vinod] can add tremendous value by giving people very direct advice about what does or doesn’t make sense,” says Andy Bechtolsheim, who co-founded Sun with Khosla in 1982 and is now chief executive of startup Arista Networks. “He wants to bet not just on significant ideas, but ideas that can change the world.”
My Take: One thing is definite; we need more green technology businesses to avoid further global warming. Hopefully, this venture will succeed in more green technology type businesses will be fruitful. It will also help the unemployment rate across the nation.
It is always a good sign when new businesses open up. It means not only is the community growing, but it also means that the economy is doing better. With new businesses opening up, more job’s are becoming available and people will be working again.
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