Clean tech

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Brand planners like to write and talk about “context.”  For Robert Scoble, a mentor of mine, context online and in technology is a driver of the next big thing. Well I’m here to tell you context sometimes can be a deterrent.  Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, Byers is a really small VC company. They made gazillions investing early on in technology – them daringly decided to focus on things that will help save and make more sustainable our planet and went into green tech/clean tech

Along came a number of big technology plays Kleiner missed out on and all of a sudden they become more famous for the money they didn’t make and a couple of big green technology investment busts. (We are in the infancy people, relax.) Also, one problem was context.  Sustainable energy isn’t just solar panels and electric cars, it’s about ways to build planet-sustaining renewable energy. It ain’t just code. Contextually, Kleiner Perkins needed sector people looking into geothermal and algae and stuff we’ve never thought bout – stuff we can’t say.  Yet they were hoping the sector would be more like tech – hence the words clean tech and green tech.  Me thinks they should have been looking closer to the green and clean side of the house. That’s where the big payouts will be.

When a small grade school in Copenhagen, NY can heat and cool itself using geothermal technology, that’s a green clue. Could we have done the same for the Freedom Tower?  Who’s asking?  Kleiner Perkins should be. Peace

 

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What do geneticists do for a living?  They disassemble genes and DNA strands, figure out what the working or nonworking parts do, how gene relationships are fostered, then they make some assumptions.  They test those assumptions with the hope of doing something smart with the information – like curing cancer.  Or, making chickens disease-free in shmoo infested cages. (Sorry, that was uncalled for.) Once we crack the code on clean tech or green tech, whatever it’s called today, genetics will be the next big thing. It will be cool-ish.

Brand planners follow a similar process as geneticists. But rather than study microscopic things, we study what walks around. That’s why a behavioral science or anthropology degree fits nicely into a brand planner career path.  The study of man is critical. Many planners, though,  stop at observing man and mining behavioral insights.  The good ones take it beyond insights and into the area of marketing stimulus — what gets man to buy.  The good ones know man well enough to understand what selling words are over-used. Which contexts are pregnant with possibility. What emotions are likely to stir response.   

Be you genetic engineer or brand planner, the rubber meets the road with the “do something smart with it” part of the equation. Peace.

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There was an article yesterday in The Wall Street Journal suggesting that until recently, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufiled & Byers took a siesta on investing in tech companies while placing bets on clean tech.  So post-nap, after having missed a number of cool tech start-ups, they hired Mary Meeker a great mind, data organizer and trend reported to help them earn some new stripes in the VC area which they kind of invented.  Kleiner is still interested in clean tech but The Journal reports they’re refocusing on the tech sector in a hearty way.

If clean tech was easy it wouldn’t be worth investing in.  Please, please John Doerr, give “clean” your best.  Find exciting new energy engineers. Find algae chemists. Optical engineers. And biologists with the vision to help us plot the way.  We’ve only got a million more years on this planet and your investments in clean energy will make a difference.  Making money is cyclical, history is not.  Stay the course my Kleiner brothers and sisters!  Clean us up. Peace!

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McDonald’s is taking a lot of heat for pushing high calorie, high-fat products to children and promoting them with toys in their Happy Meals.  (Full disclosure, the wifus buys happy meals for the value and portion size.)  Michelle Obama is doing good work in this neighborhood, setting the tone and fighting childhood obesity. We all need to jump on that bandwagon.

Here’s my take. If we can put a TV into a phone, we can probably find a tasty, healthy alternative to french fries, soda, cheese burgers and salt.  McDonald’s answer is to reduce the number of fries in the Happy Meal and add some apple slices.  Have you ever had apple slices in a bag? 

So here you go Mickey Ds – get a few chemists in the room, along with some nutritionists, commodity traders and a chef or three and fix this thing.  If anyone can, you can. BTW, I’d love someone to invent a quarter pounder with cheese that doesn’t send my cholesterol all aflutter.  I love that burger but refuse to eat it.   

It’s a big planet.  We grow lots of things on this planet.  In the next millennium we’ll engineer food things that grow that are unlike anything we’ve ever seen or eaten before. Healthy things.  Fast food companies that invent and package good tasting healthy food products will be the new clean tech. (Another area in need of leadership.)  Peace!

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Ford Huevos.

Huevos. Pronounced way-bose.  For my non-Spanish friends that means eggs. It was reported today that Ford Motor Company has decided to drop plans to re-enter the minivan market in the U.S.  Instead, it’s turning a Detroit plant loose building small hybrid cars with the silly name C-Max. Small cars.  Hybrid only.  Let the other knuckleheads build the minivans. Huevos!

My daughter drove from Long Island to Baltimore to see her boyfriend and the EasyPass bill just came in.  It showed about $50 in tolls round trip. Sans gas.  During rush hour, the Long Island Rail Road from Babylon to NYC (about 40 miles) costs $27 round trip.  The gub-ment is charging us healthily for transport.  Why?  Because it’s hemorrhaging money, thanks to bail outs. Who did we not bail out?  Ford. Why? Huevos.

If you follow this blog (Google whatstheidea+Ford or GM), you’ll know that I’ve been ranting about gas guzzlers and large cars for years.  Adapting and adopting are American traits. Pioneering traits.  I Tweeted this morning that as a nation if we put as much collective energy into clean tech and green tech as we put into Anthony’s Wiener, we might actually become the nation of pioneers we once were. Peace!

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The next big thing is clean tech.  Why is it the next big thing?  Because it’s good for the planet and that’s good for mankind.  Foursquare and mobile devices are good for investors, technology companies and engineering schools but I don’t always like what I see when humans  over use technology.  Kids who keep their heads down when walking into a room full of peers, hiding in their devices, is not a good thing…unless they’re communicating with a friend in Tunisia.  But that’s a story for another day. Back to clean tech.

It’s easy to blame the automobile industry and the oil industry for messing up our planet’s future.  The simple fact is, in the U.S. we’re a driven country.  And not in an entrepreneurial way.  We drive everywhere. Mostly out of habit. We drive to the store to buy bicycle riding equipment. We drive to the health club.  We drive to the organic food store. We drive to weight watchers meetings. And we will drive to our clean tech jobs. 

Are we nucking futs?  We really are a smart country but we’re conditioned.  If we start walking, and riding and skateboarding we can begin to eradicate diabetes, circulation problems, headaches (I’m making some of this up, but go with it), sleeplessness, muffin-top and man boobs. Clean tech is coming, but let’s use out legs and lungs to get there. Peace!

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