Energy innovation rockstar, former ARPA-E Director, to join Google.org

Looks like Google is resurrecting supporting energy innovation out of its philanthropic arm Google.org. The search engine giant has hired on the former director of the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program, which puts small grants into early stage energy breakthroughs.

What’s up with Google and biomass power?

Out of all of Google’s close to $1 billion in clean power projects, turning biomass into energy seems like the least relevant technology to Google’s core business. But Google has made a few small investments into biomass projects, including a hog waste to energy project.

Electric car maker Aptera shuts down

Electric car maker Aptera has officially shut its doors after years developing three and four-wheeled electric cars and coming close to receiving a $150 million DOE loan.

Aptera raises $2.25M in debt, restructuring

Three-wheeled electric-car startup Aptera has already delayed the launch of its car and has discussed restructuring and moving its manufacturing out of California. But it looks like the company is not completely down for the count: According to a filing, Aptera has raised $2.5 million in debt.

Lithium-Ion Battery Startup ActaCell Gains Partners, Funds

Lithium-ion battery startup ActaCell, which has already raised funds from such high profile groups as Google.org, DFJ Mercury and Applied Ventures (Applied Materials venture arm), is out touting over $3 million in newly acquired financing this morning.

ActaCell Charges Ahead With New Way to Make Batteries

A new $3 million NIST award could offer a significant boost for Austin, Tex.-based ActaCell, whose backers include Google.org, DFJ Mercury and Applied Ventures. The startup aims to scale up production of its novel nanocomposite material for lithium battery anodes by a factor of 1,000.

Nielsen Preps ‘Internet Meters’ for Cross-Platform Measurement

Brian Fuhrer, Nielsen

Brain Fuhrer (The Nielson Company) on stage at NewTeeVee Live 2009 in San Francisco

Nielsen is taking steps to integrate its measurement of TV and online video viewing, telling clients that it will soon install Internet meters into Nielsen homes to come up with cross-platform metrics for what content consumers are viewing.

As part of a new initiative called “TVandPC,” Nielsen will install 7,500 of these meters in homes that participate in its National Television Panel. Once installed, the company hopes it will be able to create a combined ratings system for TV and online.

Nielsen has provided the ratings for TV programming that content providers use to sell ads with for years, but the proliferation of video viewership online has led many of its clients to seek a better way to measure total audience across the Internet and TV.

Concerns among television programmers and advertisers have only increased with the rapid growth of viewership on Hulu and other premium content sites. And measurement of video consumption across multiple platforms will be essential to the success of TV Everywhere-type initiatives, which seek to make premium broadcast and cable content available online.

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Aptera on the Skids: Electric 2e on Hold Amid Layoffs, Dash for Cash

“Aptera’s production and delivery will be tied directly to funding,” said Aptera Motors CEO Paul Wilbur in a release from the ultra high-efficiency vehicle startup late yesterday. That very mild assessment belies the reality that Aptera is peering across the Valley of Death, where many ventures die for lack of funding at the critical commercial development phase. According to the release, dwindling cash reserves are forcing the company to delay production of its inaugural vehicle, the three-wheeled electric 2e, until 2010 rather than the end of this year as previously announced.

Hitting the new 2010 target (or any future production goal for that matter), will require Aptera to bring in fresh capital, and it’s banking on either a federal loan or private investment to come through. At this point, the company is shifting its focus away from development, which “has been outpacing the rate of fundraising.” The company has laid off an undisclosed number of employees, co-founder Steve Fambro is taking an extended vacation (he’ll return in the new year), and Chris Anthony, the other co-founder, is “stepping aside from day-to-day activities” — all in an effort, Aptera says, to slow the burn rate and free up resources for top priorities: raising cash and starting volume production of the 2e.
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