Latest News: Technology |  Celebrity |  Movies |  Apple |  Cars |  Business |  Sports |  TV Shows |  Geek

Trending

Filed under: News | Technology News

 

60 Minutes' Shortsighted Report On Cleantech And Vinod Khosla Is An Attack On American Innovation

Jan 28 2014, 10:40pm CST | by

1 Updates
60 Minutes' Shortsighted Report On Cleantech And Vinod Khosla Is An Attack On Am
 
 

YouTube Videos Comments

Full Story

60 Minutes' Shortsighted Report On Cleantech And Vinod Khosla Is An Attack On American Innovation


“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

About two weeks ago, 60 Minutes ran a story evaluating Vinod Khosla’s investments in the Cleantech industry and interviewed several industry “experts” about the financial performance of these early-stage companies. If we completely ignore the fact that 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl has numerous factual inaccuracies as pointed out by Vinod himself on the Khosla Ventures site, it is more striking to me that the debate over the actual motivation behind this story has not been more prevalent in subsequent dialogue. We are in a fragile time as a country: for each day that passes, China becomes more of an economic threat with a cheaper, more educated, and harder-working workforce. Our competitive advantage as a country is our comfort with taking risks on crazy ideas. The US has been the epicenter of technological innovation for the past century and that has only been the case because we invest in growth even when we don’t know if there will be a return in the future.

However, there has been a fundamental shift in our mindset over the past decade — the country as a whole has become more risk averse. Job growth is paramount as always, but speculative investments such as Cleantech are frowned upon to the point that the most “critically acclaimed” journalists are declaring war on speculators like Vinod. While there are divergent opinions about whether investing billions of dollars in unproven industries is a good idea or a bad idea, there is one truth that always holds true: from many failures comes few successes. Innovation is messy and only through learning can we be successful. I believe the majority of the scrutiny from Stahl is generally with regards to the US Government’s policy to pour $150+ Billion into cleantech. This is a valid concern, however, the amount of Government investment in Cleantech and growth industries is in no way comparative to the Government’s expenditures on zero growth industries such as agriculture subsidies.

Stahl’s scrutiny of venture capital and Khosla is significantly more risky than it seems. If the notion that venture capital is a scummy industry becomes common belief, we as a country will be at a drastic disadvantage to China and other competitive nations. In fact, it is possible that the reason a few of Khosla’s cleantech companies have struggled is because new investors are afraid and becoming more risk averse. I cannot stress that this behavior — which is characteristically un-American — is becoming more pervasive in the investment community. Venture investors are more focused on chasing trends and investing in markets that are developed rather than markets where there is little precedent.

Stahl prefaces her report with “the smart people who funded the Internet…have now turned their [sights] toward [cleantech]” and her tone echos shades of mockery rather than respect. She has preconceived disdain for investment in underdeveloped or “ experimental” markets. However, she fails to qualify that these cleantech investments are just as speculative and just as risky as investments in Apple or Sun Microsystems (the company Vinod founded along with Scott McNealy in the 80s). In fact, 60 Minutes has a track record of unnecessarily criticizing speculative and innovative companies — even going so far as to say Facebook would never figure out how to make money during an interview in 2007.

The media’s job is to explain complicated subjects to the mainstream and allow viewers to consider negative or positive implications of a situation. In this case, we see another example of sensationalism at the cost of innovation and growth in a new and undiscovered market. We ought to celebrate risk and celebrate our learnings through failure; we should never admonish people for attempting to improve the world, especially when those investments have the chance to reduce our reliance fossil fuels. If we’re ridiculed even for taking a risk, we’ll never improve.

Source: Forbes

 

iPad Air Giveaway. Win a free iPad Air.

You Might Also Like

Updates


Sponsored Update


Advertisement


More From the Web

Shopping Deals

 
 
 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

 

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Apple Announces September 9th iPhone 6, iWatch Event
Apple Announces September 9th iPhone 6, iWatch Event
Apart from the iPhone 6 and 6L, we’re also expecting Apple to announce the iWatch.
 
 
Meg Ryan buys Home from Hank Azaria
Meg Ryan buys Home from Hank Azaria
Meg Ryan now has her own home to live in. She has bought the Soho luxury pad for $8 million from actor, Hank Azaria.
 
 
Sean Lowe loves Catherine Giudici too much
Sean Lowe loves Catherine Giudici too much
Sean Lowe pens articles about his wife Catherine Giudici in a most love-able manner. He wrote a blog about his love with his wife.
 
 
Drew Barrymore&#039;s sister Jessica Barrymore Died from Drug Overdose
Drew Barrymore's sister Jessica Barrymore Died from Drug Overdose
Jessica Barrymore died last month and now the SDC medical report claims that she died due to an overdose of drugs and alcohol.
 
 
 

About the Geek Mind

The “geek mind” is concerned with more than just the latest iPhone rumors, or which company will win the gaming console wars. I4U is concerned with more than just the latest photo shoot or other celebrity gossip.

The “geek mind” is concerned with life, in all its different forms and facets. The geek mind wants to know about societal and financial issues, both abroad and at home. If a Fortune 500 decides to raise their minimum wage, or any high priority news, the geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants to know the top teams in the National Football League, or who’s likely to win the NBA Finals this coming year. The geek mind wants to know who the hottest new models are, or whether the newest blockbuster movie is worth seeing. The geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants—needs—knowledge.

Read more about The Geek Mind.