What do eco-bikinis, kangaroo farms and hydrogen cars have in common?
They’re ideas that Vinod Khosla considers phenomenally stupid.
The Khosla Ventures founder, speaking to an audience at the Silicom Ventures conference in Palo Alto, Calif., last month, concluded a mostly bullish cleantech talk with a slide-illustrated rant about what he considers the dumbest green fads around.
“Most of what I see in the environmental movement is silly stuff,” he said, as he flipped to a photo of singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, who once suggested, that “a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting.”
Khosla also ridiculed the idea put forth by some Australian farmers of replacing sheep with kangaroos since they produce less methane. And he poked fun at eco-bikinis, made from recycled fabrics. He noted that the environmental impact of regular bikinis is already minimal.
As for hydrogen vehicles, which sounds like a project that could raise VC funding, Khosla said that they fail on simple economics. He estimated that a hydrogen bus, once proposed for adoption by the City of Oakland, would cost $50 per mile to operate.
Khosla did have one suggestion for aspiring environmentalists looking to reduce their consumption of scarce resources. Given how much water is used to grow crops to feed to livestock, he advised: “If you want to make a difference, become a vegetarian.”
NEA Bails on Baltimore
New Enterprise Associates recently abandoned its Baltimore-based office of nearly 30 years for the northern Baltimore suburb of Timonium.
In a letter to Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, which was published in the Baltimore Sun, NEA General Counsel Louis Citron said the firm had no choice to relocate as a result of the crime spanning several years.
“Our employees have been robbed at gun point, drug needles and used condoms have been left on our front stoop, and psychotic homeless people have menaced our employees and threatened to kill them,” he wrote.
Citron estimates that the firm’s decision will cost the merchants in this neighborhood at least $200,000 per year in revenue.
No Kicking Back for Cundiff
Placekicker Billy Cundiff is not sure if he’ll be splitting the uprights for an NFL team this season. But Cundiff does have a job.
Cundiff, who is currently listed as an NFL free agent, quietly joined Pacific Southwest Ventures as an intern earlier this year while he was working on an MBA at Arizona State University. Cundiff, who earned his MBA in May and is now an associate, says his main task is to look at deal flow and find other investors for deals.
He says he hasn’t shelved his NFL career just yet. He continues to work out and last month had two tryouts. He previously played four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and is best known for kicking a record seven field goals in a “Monday Night Football” game against the New York Giants in 2003. He has been signed and released by five other teams since 2005.
He says the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons released him from training camp while he was working on his degree the last two years. “I’ve got to be the only guy in the MBA program who got fired from two jobs while in the MBA program,” Cundiff quips.
Holland Goes Big and GreenPaul Holland, a general partner at Foundation Capital, practices what he preaches.
The leader of Foundation’s cleantech practice, Holland is in the midst of building what he hopes will be “the greenest custom-built home in America.”
The Portoloa Valley, Calif.-based estate features environmentally regenerative materials, such as certified woods and recycled steel. The house will be fossil-fuel free and be able to recycle water and waste on the spot. It will be also be entirely energy independent, with plans for solar panels that will produce 21 kilowatts of power.
No word on what the spread will cost.
Holland says that the primary driver for him and his wife, Linda Yates, to build the house is their three daughters, Kylie, Devon and Piper.
“At some point in the future, 30, 40 or 50 years from now, if I have the opportunity to speak to them, I want to be able to look them in the eye and say that I did everything I could to try to solve the major crisis facing my generation,” he says in a video on SmartPlanet.com.
Pin the VC
Any entrepreneur who stumbles upon UMapper.com could probably ace the site’s Pin the VC game. The game tests a user’s knowledge of venture firms on storied Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, Calif. In it, users are given the names of firms and are asked to click their location on the satellite map within 15 seconds. Points are awarded for how close the user comes and how long it takes.
UMapper co-founder and CEO Andrei Taraschuck created the Pin the VC game, one of more than 100 interactive maps he has made on his site.
“We approached some of the funds listed on that map [for VC funding] about six months ago, but were not able to close the round,” Taraschuck says.
Taraschuck says that Greenwood Village, Colo.-based UMapper is currently financed through licensing of its technology, such as to Google, and from some angel money. He says that he and co-founder Antoine Toffa are considering making another run at raising capital from a venture firm.
Thanks to his Pin the VC game, he already knows where they are located.