Austin Cleantech Guru to Be Kleiner EIR

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has recruited a new entrepreneur-in-residence to work in its Department of Energy program, which aims to commercialize clean energy technologies coming out of national labs. Kleiner’s representative for the program will be Joel Serface, the current director of the Austin Clean Energy Incubator, we’ve learned.

A source close to the situation said that Serface plans to transition out of his role at the incubator over the next six weeks; Austin Clean Energy, meanwhile, plans to open up a nationwide search for Serface’s replacement. Prior to his job in Austin, Serface worked at several venture firms, including as a partner at Eastman Ventures, the venture arm of the Eastman Kodak company; as a director at Sierra Ventures; and as a principal at Alliant Partners.

In his new role as an EIR for Kleiner, Serface will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., to find technologies to commercialize. The other firm-lab partnerships are ARCH Venture Partners, which will team up with Sandia National Laboratory, and Foundation Capital, whose entrepreneur will work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
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Project Better Place Might Charge Up SF

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is in talks with electric vehicle startup Project Better Place about building the infrastructure for a fleet of plug-in cars in the city, including parking meter charging stations and battery replacement stations.

Newsom traveled to Israel last week to meet with representatives of the company. The mayor’s office tells us that during a luncheon with Moshe Kaplinsky, CEO of Project Better Place Israel (pictured after the jump with the mayor), and Aliza Peleg, a rep from the startup’s U.S. offices, Newsom offered to work with Project Better Place if it would consider doing a test project in San Francisco. Newsom also met with the company’s chairman, Idan Offer, at a reception earlier.

The city is already in early talks with private companies that could potentially work with Project Better Place to build an electric vehicle infrastructure, according to the mayor’s office. Newsom was also said to be “very impressed” with the Project Better Place’s team in Israel.

If San Francisco does do a deal with Project Better Place, it would be the first city in the U.S. to get on board with Shai Agassi’s electric vehicle infrastructure plan (with three cars, San Francisco currently has one of the largest plug-in hybrid fleets in the country). This is the first we’ve heard of Project Better Place being in serious discussions stateside; we’ve tried to contact them for comment and when we hear back, will update the post.
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Primer: What You Need to Know About Brazilian Biofuels

While U.S. ethanol producers are like teenagers in the global biofuels market, Brazil is like a mature adult, approaching middle age. The Brazilian government began investing heavily in ethanol infrastructure and R&D more than 30 years ago. Now the country, which produces 45 percent of its own transportation fuel “on only 1 percent of its arable land,” is aggressively looking beyond both first-generation biofuels and its domestic market.

Brazil currently produces 4.7 billion gallons of ethanol every year; the Brazilian government estimates that number will double by 2015. And they are increasingly looking at the U.S. as potential buyers. Although President Bush did sign an ethanol technology-sharing agreement with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a 54 cent-a-gallon tariff prevents cheap Brazilian ethanol from competing with homegrown U.S. corn ethanol.

But the readily fermentable sugars found in sugarcane make it a far better ethanol feedstock than grain. Brazilian sugar ethanol gives an eightfold return on the fossil energy used to make it; American corn, on the other hand, only yields 1.3 times the fossil energy used. Brazil is now the No. 2 producer of ethanol, dethroned by the U.S. in 2005, but still leads in ethanol exports, sending some 900 million gallons of ethanol overseas last year, according to Reuters.

Brazil’s ethanol success and failures can teach the rest of the world a lot about biofuels. So who are the big Brazilian ethanol players? Who’s investing in the sector? And which biofuel startups are making Brazilian deals? Below, a primer:
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25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech

With their dotcom and broadband-based winnings in tow, serial entrepreneurs of the information technology age have been taking the plunge into the energy and cleantech markets, looking to recreate their e-successes. Some are finding more success than others, and some are, frankly, finding no success at all. But these are new(ish) markets for innovation, and someone’s bound to find the Google of cleantech out of all these biofuel, solar material, water purifier and wind turbine firms. Will it be one of these 25?

  1. Shai Agassi, Founder, CEO Project Better Place.
  2. Bob Metcalfe, Partner, Polaris Venture Partners, CEO GreenFuel.
  3. Vinod Khosla, Founder Khosla Ventures.
  4. Sunil Paul, Seed investor, early stage cleantech, Nanosolar, Oorja.
  5. John Doerr, Partner, Kleiner Perkins.
  6. Elon Musk, Chairman, Tesla, Chairman, CEO SolarCity
  7. Steve Jurvetson, Partner Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
  8. Bill Gross, Founder Idealab.
  9. Ray Lane, Partner Kleiner Perkins.
  10. Al Gore, Chairman Generation Investment Managment, Partner Kleiner Perkins.
  11. Raj Atluru, Partner Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
  12. Steve Westly, Founder The Westly Group.
  13. Dan Whaley, Founder, CEO Climos.
  14. Martin Eberhard, Founder, former CEO Tesla.
  15. Martin Roscheisen, Founder, CEO Nanosolar.
  16. Martin Tobias, Former CEO Imperium Renewables.
  17. Manny Hernandez, CFO SunPower.
  18. Jonathan Gay, CEO of GreenBox
  19. Jeff Skoll, Founder Skoll Foundation, investor in Tesla, Nanosolar.
  20. Mitch Mandich, CEO Range Fuels.
  21. Bill Joy, Partner Kleiner Perkins.
  22. Larry Gross, CEO of Edeniq.
  23. Bruce Sohn, President First Solar.
  24. David Kaplan, Founder V2Green.
  25. David Cope, CEO of PurFresh.

The House That Twitters Its Energy Use

Can Twitter help you turn your lights off? IBM’s “Master Inventor” Andy Stanford-Clark has rigged up his home to twitter its energy use, and if you follow the tweets you can see in real time when Stanford-Clark has turned his lights and fountain off or on and whether he has an “unusually high electricity use” or has reduced power consumption.

It’s not as weird as it sounds. The Twitter stream is an exercise in using the data from home automation feeds, and the hope is that, by making energy usage data transparent and easy to digest, it will change consumer behavior and reduce energy consumption. The former Flash guys at GreenBox are working on using the same type of info for their energy management software, as are startups Agilewaves, and Lucid Design Group.
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Glance Offers Reprieve from Airline Woes

glance logoGlance, a screen sharing/web conferencing service that we’ve covered before, would like to offer relief for potential customers who have experienced trouble trying to fly recently.

With recent flight cancellations, airlines in bankruptcy and other issues, Glance is offering a free month’s subscription for those affected.  Simply head over to Glance’s site and tell them your tale of woe to be considered for the offer.

The service is hoping rather than hopping on a plane to visit conduct a meeting, demonstrate a product, or otherwise share desktop information, you’ll instead use Glance to show clients/co-workers your on-screen presentation.

Laptop Magazine giving away the new Asus EEE PC 900

Eeepc900I just heard from my friends at Laptop Magazine who have been all over the new Asus EEE PC 900.  They are giving one of the new EEE PC 900 so you can win one before you can buy one.  The EEE PC 900 they are giving away has the following specs:

  • 8.9-inch screen
  • 1024×600 resolution
  • FingerGlide Touchpad Technology
  • Xandros Linux OS
  • 20GB Storage
  • 2.2 pounds

All you have to do is go to the contest entry page and enter away.  Good luck!

Pictures of Dell’s Eco Bamboo Computer

We just listened in on Dell CEO Michael Dell’s speech at the Fortune Green conference, during which he showed off a “never before seen” eco-inspired computer with a bamboo casing. Dell said the computer is 81 percent smaller than a standard desktop, uses 70 percent less power and is filled with recycled materials like old bottles, milk jugs and detergent cases. While Dell wouldn’t give the name of the bamboo box, he said the product would come out later this year and would likely range in price betwen $500 and $700. Check out our pictures of the ecoputer.

More dendro-technophilia pics after the jump.
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Protectoria: Another Take on Secure E-Mail

Snapshot 2008-04-22 10-23-25Norway-based Protectoria is the latest company to offer a solution for making email more secure. Like most schemes that don’t depend on encryption, Protectoria’s takes email out of the regular email server flow entirely. Instead, you upload your message (via secure connection) to Protectoria’s servers, and they mail out a link to the recipient. The recipient then visits the link and gets a PIN code sent to their mobile phone – the code being required to open and download the message.

Protectoria offers both standalone (web mail) and integrated (Outlook/Exchange) versions. Pricing is per recipient either way, and quoted in Norwegian Kroner at rates that start just under $2 per message.

Lino Delivers Online Stickies

ScreenshotLino is a new application that lets you put virtual sticky notes on an online canvas. There are other such applications, of course; they’re good for storyboarding or task management, particularly if you’re a visual thinker. What makes Lino stand out is a very attractive presentation and a good mix of features.

After an instant signup, you get your own “canvas” – think of a bulletin board. You can, of course, create, edit, delete, and reposition notes. But you can also email them, set reminders on them, and add photos as well as text. There’s a tagging facility to let you manage groups of stickies by any keyword you want. You can create new canvases, and keep them private, make them public, or share them with friends. What’s missing? Incoming email integration would be nice. But for a service that just entered beta, this one is already looking pretty good.