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Cleantech vs. Retiring

Posted by John Martin at Tue Feb 14 17:00:00 +0000 2012

What do you do after the Super Bowl ? Head to … …

One of the repeating themes I find in this market space is seeing people who have been great winners in other ‘tech’ sectors, choosing their next career as ‘cleantech’. It’s like those old Disney ads, “now that you’ve won the Super Bowl, what’s next? Disneyland!”.

In this past year’s Cleantech Open, one of our National Finalists from Oregon was a renewable cellulosic coal-substitute venture led by a guy who had, 40 years earlier, pioneered a basic process for semiconductor wafer fabrication and then went on to found two different bio-technology ventures. What do you do for an encore after chips and genes ? Cleantech !

Similarly you saw this twice at the Idaho conference. Clay Young, CEO of Inovus founded a business intelligence database software venture in Idaho which he sold to Microsoft in 2006. Could’ve retired on that, but instead, Cleantech !

And Lloyd Mahaffey, CEO of Dynamis was an early employee of Apple Computer and was asked by Steve Jobs to do something with the idea of an “educational” market and turned Apple Education into the multi-billion dollar dominant player in the school computer market which it has become today. After that, he lived the life of a Silicon Valley venture capitalist for years. His family then made the lifestyle decision to move to Idaho in the mid-000s and he looked for new business projects. What seemed like the biggest play ? Cleantech !

Impatient shorts will bet on “the next Groupon”. But, the strong, patient money is going to what pundits consider the new strategic areas for the 21st Century -- energy and water (the core of Cleantech Open) as well as civic-security.


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