Few War Stories in Cleantech Compilation


Aspatore has done a difficult thing in picking essays from leading cleantech thinkers and compiling them into a single book: “Green Venture Capital.” Absent are the hucksters, ideologues and other undesirables that pollute the pages of the Internet with their mindless musings on this emerging industry. That merits praise as venture capital-related content is not Aspatore’s specialty.

The book weighs in at 97 pages and features essays from Maurice Gunderson, Michael Brown, John Ballbach, Kef Kasdin, Steve Westly and Jon Sakoda—each a respected participant in the cleantech industry. It is not designed to be read from beginning to end, but as separate white paper-style entries.

As such, it’s difficult to get through. Each segment is high on abstraction and light on details, specifics and real world examples. When you talk to soldiers, you expect to hear war stories. I would have liked to hear more from these investors on their investments.

The experts lack editorial direction and are granted free reign to go galloping through the world of green investing in any direction that they please. The experts tend to repeat each other, especially when it comes to the mantra of “cleantech is a business, not a tree-hugging exercise.” Forgivable errors of fact that a knowledgeable editor might have averted make unfortunate appearances (“$2.4 million in stimulus funds for grants to companies involved in making batteries for electric cars” should be $2.4 billion).

But there are little pearls of insight. John Ballach’s brief history of cleantech and assessment of investment failures between 2002 and 2008 is worth serious consideration. Steve Westly points to the role of the China Investment Corporation’s in stimulating cleantech-entrepreneurship to overtake work here in the U.S.

Strung together, these pearls have value, but their varying shapes and colors make it difficult to take them in at one time. Worse, perhaps, is that this pearl necklace will cost you. At 100 dollars per copy, you’d expect to get diamonds.

Full disclosure: Aspatore is a subsidiary of Thomson Reuters, which also publishes this blog.