Venture capitalists enthusiastic about Obama

December 3, 2008 6:26:32 PM PST
Unlike the situation in Detroit, Silicon Valley innovators see the downturn as a good climate to come up with new technology.

The momentum could be felt at a venture capital summit in Half Moon Bay Wednesday.

Both start-ups and the venture capital firms that back them share an enthusiasm these days that Silicon Valley is on the cusp of a new boom era.

Chief among them is Tim Draper, one of the valley's biggest venture capitalists. He backed Skype and Hotmail.

"Particularly in down markets, people become more creative, more innovative, and we'll see more and more innovative things, and yes, there will be money for them," said Tim Draper.

Clean tech start-ups are the most optimistic because they hope to be ready to go public when the economy rebounds.

Drew Clark, a venture capitalist at IBM, thinks that's three years away.

"The feeling is that 2012 may be the watershed year where we finally get back to public offerings, we are finally able to pull through more of these companies, and I think you're going to see some great investments made in the interim," he said.

So companies like San Francisco's Renewable Fuel Products are focused on demonstrating its idea of de-centralized biofuel production is viable.

And San Jose's BioFuelBox sees the climate only getting better with the President-elect embracing new energy technologies.

"We're very excited about the new administration coming in and what that means for Cleantech in general, and biofuels in particular. In fact when Barack Obama mentions biodiesel by name, that's great for us," said BioFuelBox CEO Steve Perricone.

Some ideas are already being deployed or tested in the real world, such as the ability for a grocery chain to go to electronic price signs to reduce waste.

"There's 10,000 price changes in a typical grocery store every week. This is stuff that we kind of don't really see in our daily shopping, and 10,000 is like about 1000 maybe 2000 sheets of paper," said Altierre Digital Retail CEO Sunit Saxena.

The landscape is changing with bankers in 2009 expecting money to shift away from internet commerce and content, and shifting instead to life sciences and clean technology.


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