Silicon Valley’s Green Energy Mistake
Political venture capital turns out to be a loser.
Silicon Valley’s investment wizards are fleeing the so-called green economy, and not a moment too soon for American prosperity. As painful as the era of has been for taxpayers and shareholders, there’s an emerging silver lining. It’s likely that in 2013 fewer people will spend their time trying to turn political projects into companies.
A recent survey from our corporate cousins at Dow Jones VentureSource and the National Venture Capital Association finds that “clean technology” is inspiring pessimism among venture capitalists. Fully 61% expect less clean-tech investment in 2013 compared to 2012. On the flip side, a majority expect more investment next year in business information technology, a traditional U.S. economic strength.
The survey reflects a natural and healthy shift in Silicon Valley. Talent and resources are moving back to the technologies that gave the valley its name?and away from trendy eco-projects that failed.
When Silicon Valley was committed to addressing market needs, it enriched the world with Intel, Apple, Google and Cisco. When venture investors tried to profit from political agendas, they saddled taxpayers with stinkers like Abound Solar, Range Fuels and the infamous Solyndra, which went bust last year after receiving more than half a billion dollars in federal loans.
Success has proven elusive even for the smartest guys in the solar-heated room. Five years after Al Gore joined the prestigious venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins to back environmentally correct companies, the collaboration has yielded few successful exits for Mr. Gore and his partners, along with some spectacular disasters.