How Green-Tech Is “Eating the World”

May 3, 2017, 6:59 PM UTC
Close-up of wind mill in the Rosalia Wind Farm near Oaksdale
Wolfgang Kaehler—LightRocket/Getty Images

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Most investors remember the late aughts “green-tech bubble.” Firms poured many hundreds of millions into failed clean and green technology companies, most of which failed badly. Investors retreated from the sector.

But now, green tech is eating the world, according to two prominent clean tech investors. On Tuesday, David Mount of Kleiner Perkins’ Green Growth Fund, and Gabriel Kra, founder of Prelude Ventures, discussed how the sector has evolved on stage at the Collision conference in New Orleans.

Companies from the 2008 greentech bubble “underestimated the amount it would cost to scale the technology, overestimated how eager consumers would be to pick up their products, and probably underestimated how fast the competition was moving,” Mount said. But the sector has learned from those mistakes.

Now, startups are increasingly developing “green” technologies for industrial uses that might be categorized as ag-tech, IoT, or auto-tech, but they’re also opportunities for green tech investors, they said.

Companies today “are ready to benefit from massive cost declines coming out of the digital world that are ready to make their impact on the industrial world, the energy and environmental sectors, manufacturing sector, transportation sector,” Mount said. So, expand your definition of “green” investing. “We are not opportunity limited,” Kra said.

I asked whether the election of coal-friendly President Trump changed their investing outlook? Nope! In the short term, Kra and Mount say they’re investing in companies that use green technology to generate savings for companies and make economic sense today. Maybe under a new President they could be accelerated. Mount noted that he’s thinking long term — breaking the historic linkage between carbon emissions and economic productivity will be a ten to 30 year process.

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