Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Merrill Lynch Calls Cleantech The Sixth Technology Revolution

Cleantech, the next investing boom?

Merrill Lynch Compares Cleantech To Computing In The 70's

History shows that technology revolutions occur about every 50 years.

"We believe cleantech is at the beginning of a high-growth period much like computing was in the early 1970s. The application of technology to resource problems should cause profound changes in the energy, utility, and automotive industries." says Mr. Steven Milunovich

Mr. Milunovich believes the sixth technology revolution will be driven by clean technology - the application of technology to optimize the use of natural resources - and biotech.

The current pressure on cleantech stocks may continue for now, but the combination of friendlier government policies and economic improvement should lead to investment opportunities in 2010-11.

Is Bandwidth The New Oil?

Does America face another addiction with limited resources?

"Bandwidth is kind of like a drug," says Dana Waldman (CEO Voyant International). "The more you get, the more you want"

The number of devices connected to the Net is expected to grow exponentially with the "Internet of Things". If you include the growth in video related devices/application (and include the high definition capability) we could be facing another commodity crisis.

Tech Radar asks the question What If Bandwidth Was The New Oil?

While our oil habit continues to cost us dear, we're busily establishing another addiction. This time, it's bandwidth. The combined cost of broadband, home phones, cable or satellite TV and mobile phones can easily outstrip our energy bills, and our connected lifestyle is making these services essential. Is history repeating itself?

Will our internet addiction become as costly and as dangerous as our addiction to oil?

The solution

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is The New Economic Indicator Signalling That Smart Grid Plans Are On Hold?

From W.S.J.
A drop in power use, disrupts utility industry.

An unexpected drop in U.S. electricity consumption has utility companies worried that the trend isn't a byproduct of the economic downturn, and could reflect a permanent shift in consumption that will require sweeping change in their industry.

compel major changes in the way utilities run their businesses. Utilities are expected to invest $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion by 2030 to modernize their electric systems and meet future needs, according to an industry-funded study by the Brattle Group.

if electricity demand is flat or even declining, utilities must either make significant adjustments to their investment plans or run the risk of building too much capacity.

But what has executives stumped is that recent shifts appear larger than others seen previously.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Oil Is Finite But Information Is Infinite".. Google's CEO Eric Schmidt

Bits, bytes, megawatts and's all just data to me, but Google sees it as content. We saw how they revolutionized content traveling over the Internet.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said “the cheapest and most available source of new energy is the energy we waste”.
Scott P Shaffer
Is an antiquated power grid the biggest form of waste?

Here comes the “next generation” Internet. Think of all of the computing devices that are connected (plugged in) to the

"EnerNet" (Energy+Internet=EnerNet)

Eric Schmidt gave a speech at the New America Foundation that outlined what the "next generation" Internet will allow.

How will Google use the power of information for the energy industry?

Energy is really just another form of bits and bytes (data) that travels across a network.

When an air conditioner is turned on, data (or content) is being created.

Millions of ACs, refrigerators, Ipods etc. There are probably fifty times the number of other "computing devices" in your house generating data (content) compared to PCs/laptops.

When Google joined the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition they signaled their intent to dominate handling "information" traveling over the "EnerNet"

Schmidt's first suggestion is to use some of the bailout funds to upgrade the electric grid, and make it smart. Broadband was required before people could really utilize the Net, a smart grid is necessary for the CleanTech boom.

Every structure that relies on heating or air conditioning will require a "new PC".

Are smart meters the next generation PCs? The grid is similar to the Internet.

How will Google utilize (and monetize) the data created by the grid?

Here's how I see the next generation Internet and the analogy of previous Net winners.

Smart meters (Dell), chips that make devices more energy efficient (Intel), software that connects these devices to the EnerNet (Microsoft) and managing the data (content) that is generated when these devices are connected (Google)....and Google again.


WalMart Makes Commitment To Wind Power

Having a major retailer commit to a product or service can be as transformational as a government mandate.wind turbine

From Wall Street Journal Blog

WalMart Commits To Wind Power

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer just announced a deal with Duke Energy to use wind power for 15% of the electricity at hundreds of its Texas stores. The wind will come from a Duke wind farm slated to go operational next spring.

What’s interesting about Wal-Mart’s announcement is the company’s long-term bet that using wind power will be cost-competitive with traditional power sources. Wal-Mart’s vice-president of energy said in a statement, “We’re purchasing renewable power at traditional energy rates,” though the company didn’t disclose specific terms.

Wind Energy stocks

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pondering Primate (Team Monkee Do) Off To Race In IronMan Arizona

The end of IronMan racing season is almost here.monkee do

Team Monkee Do (Scott Shaffer) is taking off for beautiful Tempe to race in IronMan Arizona.

An Ironman race consist of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run (marathon). It is by far one of the most agonizing but rewarding things to experience.

Follow the race at

There's a little unfinished business in the desert to take care of.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Google, iPhone and Speech Recognition...Will QWERTY Keyboards Lose Their Significance?

The iPhone represents two major transformations, one is speech recognition. (know the other?)

One of the selling points to smartphones is the QWERTY keyboard. Will speech recognition technology eliminate the need for them?
Scott P Shaffer
When word processing was introduced, it was the beginning of the end of handwriting.

Can you think of the last time you wrote anything of length on sheet of paper?

Google is blending the PC with the mobile phone, and will be creating another revenue stream for keywords

NY Times has a story about Google, iPhone and Machines That Listen

Google’s new speech recognition service for the iPhone, understands you most accurately when you speak to it just the way you enter queries into the Google search box. It may even signify an inflection point — speech recognition that is more useful than typing.

Not only will Apple (using Google's technology) transform search on a mobile, but imagine the other applications that will change with this speech recognition technology (text messaging, email, location based services).

(second transformation)
In addition to transforming the way we use a mobile phone, Apple also disrupted the entire remote device space, when they incorporated sensing technology (accelerometer).

What other industries will benefit from this?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Energy Efficiency And Grid Reliability Represent $65 Billion Market

Lux Research report predicts that focus energy efficiency and grid reliability will drive a $65 billion market opportunity in 2013.

The advent of distributed generation, distributed storage, and distributed intelligence will change power infrastructure into an intelligent and more nimble power web, according to a new report from Lux Research, "Alternative Power and Energy Storage State of the Market Q4 2008: Weaving the $65 Billion Power Web.

"Smart grid technologies, like advanced metering infrastructure and demand response services, will enable the transformation of the current grid to a more reliable and intelligent power web," said Ying Wu, Senior Analyst at Lux Research.

More on demand response and smart meter

Comcast Rolls Out Extreme Broadband..But Who Can Afford It?

If you roll it out, with they buy it?

As consumers cut back on unnecessary expenditures, I can't help but think that Comcast's extremely expensive broadband service will receive a lukewarm reception.

Comcast to Roll Out Extreme 50 Mbps

Comcast, the nation’s leading provider of entertainment, information and communications products and services, today announced it is making the leap from broadband to wideband with the launch of next-generation DOCSIS 3.0 in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

* Extreme 50, offering up to 50 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 10 Mbps of upstream speed at $139.95/month.*
* Ultra, offering up to 22 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 5 Mbps of upstream speed at $62.95/month.*

To see what broadband speeds you're really getting (as opposed to what they advertise) do a free test at

The eBay Of Working Capital

Recession and tight credit markets create a new way for businesses to tap cash. By selling outstanding receivables, much needed financing is available without resorting to vulture financing.

eBay of working capital

What kind of impact will this financing method have on balance sheets?

Will this put pressure on banks to lend, or will they too get into this business?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The First Type Of Ecommerce Using TV Remote Control?

What other order menus do you see cable companies inserting in shows?

Dominos and TiVo Hook Up For Remote Control Ordering

Users can also access the Dominos site through any number of entry points -- Gold Star sponsorship, program placements, interactive tags in live TV spots, and through Music, Photos, Products & More by clicking on "Order Your Pizza" -- and manually enter an address and pizza order. Users will also be able to track their pizzas, according to Domino's.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Voice Recognition Mobile Search From Google Is Here

First Google introduced local voice search (1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411)

Using this service, you can:

* search for a local business by name or category.
You can say "Giovanni's Pizzeria" or just "pizza".
* get connected to the business, free of charge.
* get the details by SMS if you’re using a mobile phone.
Just say "text message".

Microsoft acquired TellMe for $800m. TellMe's founder Mike McCue called his vision "DialTone 2.0".

From NY Times Google Adds Voice Search To iPhone

Users of the free application, which Apple is expected to make available as soon as Friday through its iTunes store, can place the phone to their ear and ask virtually any question, like “Where’s the nearest Starbucks?” or “How tall is Mount Everest?” The sound is converted to a digital file and sent to Google’s servers, which try to determine the words spoken and pass them along to the Google search engine.

The search results, which may be displayed in just seconds on a fast wireless network, will at times include local information, taking advantage of iPhone features that let it determine its location.

The other mobile speech recognition deals and players

White Space Provides The Future Of Wireless Revolution

It should come as no surprise to Pondering Primate readers how big the FCC's decision to approve Google Backed White Space Use will be.
white space
It's been called "WiFi on steroids" and offers "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide ubiquitous wireless broadband access to all Americans."

From M.I.T. Technology Review The Coming Wireless Revolution.

"The announcement that the FCC will allow white-space devices has a lot of people feeling like this is a beginning of a wireless revolution," says Anant Sahai, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.

radios that are smart enough to hop from one frequency to another, leaving occupied channels undisturbed--an approach known as cognitive radio

Dell may want to build broadband wireless Internet cards that are faster and have more range than existing ones do (already announced this initiative)

Google may simply want to push Internet coverage to increase the number of people who see Google ads (Google has estimated it will increase revenues by 20-30%)

Jake Ward from Wireless Innovation Alliance describes one white-space application as "mind blowing": sending high-definition television signals from one room to another within a house. "You have a TiVo, a DVD player, a cable box, and three high-definition TVs," he says. "Using a white-space device, you could beam those signals anywhere, to any TV."

More about the White Space potential

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Google Joins Smart Grid Coalition

Google joins Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition
google cleantech
The Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (DRSG) is the trade association for companies that provide products and services in the areas of demand response, smart meters and smart grid technologies.

DRSG works to educate and provide information to policymakers, utilities, the media, the financial community and stakeholders on how demand response and smart grid technologies such as smart meters can help modernize our electricity system and provide customers with new information and options for managing their electricity use

How will Google use the power of information for the energy industry?

Google Says White Space Will Boost Their Online Ad Revenue By 20-30%

"Wi-Fi on steroids" is said to be worth billions to Google.
How much will it be worth to other white space players?

Could President Obama, Congress and and Google team up to deliver Wi-Fi on steroids?

The FCC just gave it a thumbs up.

From Investor's Business Daily U.S. Broadband Push Seen Gaining Steam

President-elect Obama writes on his website, "America should lead the world in broadband penetration and internet access". He calls for "providing true broadband to every community in America".

How can this be accomplished?

Microsoft said access to white spaces offers "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide ubiquitous wireless broadband access to all Americans."

On Nov. 5, the FCC voted to open vacant broadcast spectrum for unlicensed use. The availability of these white spaces was applauded by Google co-founder Larry Page, who said in a statement: "In terms of how people use the Internet, how they communicate with each other, how rural areas will be able to have connectivity, this will be a tremendously important thing."

Page predicted the free use of white space will boost Internet use so much, his firm's online ad revenue will rise 20% to 30% a year..
(My rough estimates put that figure at roughly $4-7B in additional revenues)

Last week Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt went to Chicago to serve as part of Obama's 17-person economic transition economic advisory board.(Schmidt said no to Obama's CTO position though).

Google's Larry Page defines White Space as "Wi-Fi on steroids"

Utilizing the unused TV "white spaces" for broadband access would be a tremendous opportunity to bring the Internet to more Americans -- including those in rural areas and first responders.

Because of the much longer range of these spectrum signals, wireless broadband access utilizing the TV white spaces could be brought to more consumers using fewer base stations -- in effect, "wi-fi on steriods".

Largest PC manufacturer is already betting on its adoption.

More ponderings on White Spaces

BitTorrent....The Internet's Darling Becomes A Dud

Representing about half the world’s Internet traffic by some measures, The called it the next gigantic IPO.

CNN called it the The Next Big IPO.

Much of their popularity is due to its ability to break the download bottleneck.

However when Comcast, a service provider, decided to put a "hold" on their Internet traffic, their downfall began.

BitTorrent Sacks Half Its Staff

As an open-source technology protocol, the file-sharing system BitTorrent is going strong, representing about half the world’s Internet traffic by some measures. But the San Francisco company, BitTorrent, is showing signs of serious trouble while it tries to commercialize the technology.

The company, with its remaining 20 employees, will focus on BitTorrent DNA, a content delivery network that helps media and video game companies distribute their products cheaply over the Internet.

Om Malik was spot on with this quote "While Web 2.0 companies may get acquired by Google (or Yahoo), specialized software start-ups with products that enhance hardware will find buyers more often. Expect this trend to continue, and in fact gain momentum"

So is the market in need of more bandwidth, or just bandwidth efficiency?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Picking up any newspaper or listening to any news outlet will have you wondering if the days of a prosperous U.S. economy are over. There isn't anything new to invent (we have heard that before).

How did we get here and where do we go from here?

What is the next boom?Scott P. Shaffer

Here's a compilation of events/transformations that got us here:

Year 2K and Internet boom
-massive spending in the hardware/software industry (PC growth)
-telcos ramped up by laying pipe
-govt flooded market with money to fight off any 1/1/2000 problems
-easy money led to "dumb" IPOS (remember fees for investment bankers
-"day trading" a new industry
(the first leg of the financial industry greed)

The end of the Net boom and the recession officially started with 9/11

Fed lowers interest rates to stimulate economy after 9/11

-home building wave starts (demand for lumber, concrete starts)
-home prices start to increase causing refinancing, line of credit boom---consumer wave starts
-Govt creates Homeland Security (security industry booms)
-housing boom starts with all time low interest rates (stock day trading shifts to day trading homes)
-unprecedented hurricane activity (and strength) triggers roofing/repair industry
-home builders, realtors, mortgage brokers see record prosperity
-the financial industry create esoteric investments based on mortgages (second leg of the financial industry greed)

CHINDIA (China and India two massive economies start to ramp

-farming, manufacturing, medical equipment companies
-commodity prices skyrocket
-the tipping point for finding cheap oil and Chindia's massive appetite create perfect storm
-Olympics in China create big spending for one time event
-oil prices reach record levels impacting consumers and manufacturers..the start of the CleanTech money flow
-US Dollar falls to record levels

What caused the upcoming perfect storm?

-Home prices crater causing foreclosures, home-builder weakness
-oil prices dive on economic slowdown (hedge funds on the wrong side of this trade are forced to liquidate contracts causing rapid drop in price)

-worldwide economic slowdown and financial industry
-Govt approves $700b bailout of financials
-Auto industry asks for a government handout

Oil and natural gas prices drop drastically
-Cleantech investment comes to a halt (a massive newly created industry that was expected to resurrect our economy)
-Photovoltaic prices (solar cells) expected to drop in '09
-Pickens delays his wind farm plan

The economy is cyclical with varying sizes of booms and busts.

The question is what technology, government mandate, or event will create the next boom?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Boom Coming For TV Advertising?

Dynamic ad insertion for both linear and non-linear TV viewing.

The ability to place targeted ads before, after and during on demand content playback will disrupt the television advertising.

A new advertising solution will enable advertisers and content providers to exert exacting control over ad placement and generate revenue through additional advertising opportunities.

Advertisers can now reach both prime time and "my time" viewers. This has enormous implications for advertising.

IBM Proposes Technology Fueled Economic Recovery Plan

From NY Times IBM Proposes Technology Economic Recovery Plan

Sixty-seven percent of electrical energy, for example, is lost because of inefficient power generation and grid management.

I.B.M. is increasingly playing the role of lead contractor in these so-called smart infrastructure projects around the world, from a traffic management network in Stockholm to electric grids in Texas.

computerized grids, thermostats and appliances can sense and communicate line failures or automatically turn off air-conditioners during peak load times to save money and fuel

What Has As Much Capacity As U.S. Wind, Solar, Geothermal And Biomass Combined?

The media rush to highlight every major new renewable power project, but another clean energy resource gets far less attention, even though it's flexible, abundant, relatively inexpensive and valued overall at billions of dollars.

Next 100 highlights the Invisible Energy Resource

According to a recent report by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), this unheralded resource is equal to 29,000 megawatts of capacity during periods of peak summer demand--as much as all U.S. wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass power combined.

The report calls it "an effective and efficient capacity resource, on equal footing with generation" and says it "will become a critical resource for maintaining system reliability over the next ten years."

I've discussed about this technology before.

Know what it is and who the players are?

Energy Internet Or Electronet...Two Terms To Get Used To

Thomas Friedman in Hot Flat and Crowded recognizes the core green truth that the future is all about clean electrons -- that is, carbon-free electricity -- and energy efficiency.

A smart electrical grid is when moving power use to the grid also opens up the full potential of an "energy internet,"

Al Gore speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit:

The nation needs to build “an electronet,” a unified national smart grid, with high-voltage, low-loss underground wires that deliver renewable energy from the places that produce it — like the sunny Arizona deserts or the windy Dakota plains — to the cities where the majority of it is used. Such a grid would require a $400 billion investment upfront, but would pay off in just over three years, he said, because the nation spends $120 billion annually on costs from power failures attributed to the existing grid.

7 Ideas To Watch With Upcoming Energy Infrastructure Build

A new report by the Brattle Group estimates that the U.S. utility industry will have to invest between $1.5 and $2.0 trillion between 2010 and 2030 just to maintain current levels of reliable energy service for customers throughout the country.

The Energy Road Map does a great job summarizing “Transforming America’s Power Industry: The Investment Challenge 2010-2030”

They also list seven ideas to watch.

1) Smart Grid- Software, Sensors & Storage
2) Distribute Power & Energy storage
3) Cleaner Coal conversation gets emotional, but coal wins
4) Next generation biofuels push corn aside
5) Solar grows, but real breakthroughs still waiting in the lab
6) Nuclear tries to reengage public and political leaders
7) Geothermal energy

In addition, the report states that EE/DR programs could significantly reduce, but not eliminate, the need for new generation capacity. And, implementation of a new federal carbon policy would significantly increase the cost and change the mix of new generation capacity.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pondering Primate Off To Race In IronMan World Championship 70.3

The 09 IronMan racing season is coming to an end. This weekend is the World Championship 70.3 race and in 2 weeks IronMan Arizona.

Team Monkee Do (Scott Shaffer) will be racing at this weekend's IronMan World Championship 70.3 in Clearwater, Florida • Monkee DoNovember 8, 2008

The Ironman 70.3 Series culminates with its world championship in Clearwater, FL.

More than 1,800 domestic and international competitors earn the right to compete in the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 by qualifying at one of the 31 Ironman 70.3 events held around the world.

Ironman 70.3 events consist of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. The race will start and finish at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach

Follow the race live at

Dell Incorporates White Space Radios Into Laptops

Dell adopts "WiFi on steroids".

In short, access to white spaces offers "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide ubiquitous wireless broadband access to all Americans."

I have pondered at great length about the enormous opportunity White Space represents
After the FCC approved the Google Backed White Space Use, the largest PC maker announces they will incorporate this technology.

From PC World Dell To Offer White Space Connectivity In Laptops

Dell will add a new wireless option to future laptops by installing radio chips that provide connectivity over the unused television spectrum known as white spaces. Proponents say the TV spectrum can carry broadband signals significantly farther than Wi-Fi, and that opening up the spectrum will help expand the market for new smartphone-like devices.

Today some 1 billion WiFi chips are shipped each year.

"We intend to integrate white-space radios into future Dell products," said Neeraj Srivastava, director of technology policy at Dell. The products could include laptops, netbooks, and any other devices that provide wireless network access. White spaces could solve a lot of the problems of the 2.4GHz spectrum and allow for higher-bandwidth applications such as streaming audio and video.

4 Reasons why you should care about White Space.
(Hint: one of them is the fastest WiFi ever)

How will this new spectrum affect WiFI players, telcos and cable cos?

Also this week Intel announced they were scrapping their ultrawideband efforts.

More white space ponderings

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Suggested CleanTech Reading

A record amount of VC money is going into the CleanTech, or GreenTech space.

Here are some books I have found that give great insight on where some of the next great investments might be found in the CleanTech space.

Nicholas Carr, the author of "Does IT Matter?" (a book that was way ahead of it's time) provides more of his visions.
This book discusses how cheap, utility-supplied computing will ultimately change society as profoundly as cheap electricity did.

Best selling author Thomas Friedman follows up his "The World Is Flat" with a great insight as to how the Green Revolution could provide America with a great opportunity. "The green revolution we need is is like no revolution the world has seen".

Highlights the various types of renewable energy opportunities (trends, pros/cons, timeframes, profitability potential and myths).

FCC Approves Google Backed White Space Use

The "Internet of Things", or "Physical World Connection" is becoming a reality.

When everyone and everything has access to broadband, the Internet will deliver numerous applications, companies and revenue opportunities.

Everything from thermostats, smart meters, digital cameras, sprinkler systems, airplanes to mobile phones and laptops will soon have broadband access capabilities.white space

Internet For Everyone and soon everything. Cheap broadband wireless services will soon be available to all.

Google calls it "Wi-Fi on steroids". Today some 1 billion Wi-Fi chips are shipped each year. "

Now that the FCC has set the rules, I'm sure that we'll see similar growth in products to take advantage of this spectrum," Google's Larry Page wrote.

Microsoft calls "white spaces" the greatest improvement in Internet access since the advent of Wi-Fi."

White Spaces offers a "ton of bandwidth"

From Yahoo FCC Approves Google-Backed Plan For Airwaves Use

The five-member FCC voted to open unlicensed pockets of the spectrum known as white space that will become available when U.S. broadcasters are required to move to digital television next year.

Companies like Google and Microsoft, as well as consumer groups, said access to the white space airwaves would encourage innovation in cellular telephones and wireless devices, much as WiFi did.

"Let's hope it's not just Wi-Fi on steroids but Wi-Fi on amphetamines," FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said.

While a lot of companies make white space radios (modems), the white space rules mandate that unlicensed users of this spectrum also be able to sense licensed users and not interfere with them (that was a key argument for opposition). That means companies that make white space radios will need more than just radio expertise: they will need sensing expertise.

According to Josh Silver, (Free Press) white spaces adoption would champion four core principles:

-- Access (fat pipes in every home),
-- choice (real competition between providers),
-- openness (this appears to be a code word for some flavor of 'Net neutrality),
-- innovation (job creation and economic growth).

More white space ponderings.

Our company uncovered a small company with modulation techniques (and over $200m in VC funding from Cisco, SBC Communications, US Venture Partners, ComVentures along with $100m from US Govt) that is positioning themselves to be the "Qualcomm of 700MHz and White Space" (modulating standard).

This Silicon Valley player is already receiving white space radio orders.

The report is titled "White Space Represents A White Hot Opportunity"