Lessons From Silicon Valley VC Legend Don Valentine

With all the fuss surrounding the recent “AngelGate” meetings, it’s instructive to listen to one of the legends of the VC business — Sequoia founder Don Valentine — talk about the approach and the thinking that led to his investments in companies like Apple, Cisco, Google and Yahoo.

Flurry of Federal, State Efforts to Kickstart U.S. Carbon Capture — Canada Next?

Get ready for the carbon capture boom. Government funding for carbon capture and storage projects has ballooned in the last three months — and not just through the economic stimulus package, which increased federal support by 70 percent to $8 billion for demonstrations and deployment, according to a new report from Emerging Energy Research. The industry also has growing support at the state level, with new initiatives on the books in Illinois and Texas, and carbon capture legislation proposed in Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Kansas.

Yet another boost could come later this afternoon, when President Barack Obama and Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper are expected to unveil an “environmental deal,” likely related to carbon capture and storage technology, according to Canada’s CBC News. A White House official told the New York Times that the two countries will commit to sharing information about energy and technology, and will work more closely on research.
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Sequoia Breaks Into Carbon Capture, Backs Stealthy C12 Energy

Massachusetts-based carbon capture startup C12 Energy has just entered an exclusive group: cleantech companies backed by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. The firm, which has been less gung-ho about the green space than many of its Silicon Valley peers, has joined several undisclosed investors in a $4.5 million funding round for C12 Energy, VentureWire reports.

The 6-month-old startup is keeping its strategy under wraps for now, but C12 co-founder Kurt Zenz House — the company’s chief scientist and president — has left a paper trail of his ideas for large-scale carbon capture and storage. We can’t say for sure what C12 has in the hopper, of course, but we do know that House has done a lot of research into storing CO2 in carbonate sediments — rocks, essentially.

Less than a year before C12 incorporated, House (with three other researchers) published a study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology on electrochemical weathering — a process meant to keep carbon dioxide captured from industrial flues and then stored in oceans from causing acidification. Biophile Magazine reported on House’s study at the time, and offered this explanation:
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4 Steps to Making Strategic Decisions in Today’s Market


David Selinger

Anticipating that a financial crisis like the one we’re currently experiencing wasn’t far away, I’ve run my company, richrelevance, on a zero-fat budget, raising small rounds of capital to ensure our team built the discipline to operate with small budgets. Yet, anticipation of the downturn does not make me immune to the shift. External risks in every business have changed. None of us will go through the next 18 months without significant impact.
But many entrepreneurs who saw the now-famous “Sequoia deck” unfortunately took its conclusions to be a tenet of truth and acted on it — perhaps too hastily. The folks at Sequoia are smart, but they aren’t necessarily smarter than you or me at running our businesses. This is the crux of the issue: While this market shift is, in fact, a 5- or 6-sigma event, what we do with that information is still within our domain.
Reacting blindly to a situation is wrong — being reactive is bad for your business. There’s a process to responding to urgent situations, much like triage in a hospital, and by understanding, analyzing, acting and repeating we can surmount these challenges. Now is a unique time when you can deepen customer relationships by advising them, seeking input, sharing ideas, etc. Below are four steps to responding the current economic situation without being reactive.
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Reality Check: Surviving Is Always Hard for Startups

By now Sequoia’s “RIP” slide deck and the ensuing blog coverage have been consumed by every entrepreneur and investor in the tech universe. It hit a nerve. Perhaps it provided a wake-up call, or simply confirmed people’s worst fears. For first-time entrepreneurs, or for those who have forgotten what happened just seven or eight years ago, this sort of shock therapy could be effective.
But the bottom line is that it is superbly hard, even in good economic times, to really impact the world with an innovative new product from a small company. The odds are hugely stacked against you. Would-be entrepreneurs and investors alike tend to forget this. They grow complacent when they are bailed out of mediocre situations or make money far exceeding what they deserve. They begin to believe their own BS. A troubling sense of entitlement lulls them into a false sense of security that they are not actually fighting for their economic lives, every minute of every day. It happened during the dot-com bubble and the housing boom, and now it’s happening on Wall Street. Read More about Reality Check: Surviving Is Always Hard for Startups

Samsung Spinpoint M6: up to 500 GB in a 2.5-inch drive

Samsungspinpointm6500gbI guess when Samsung says they have the "World’s Highest Capacity Hard Drive for Mainstream Laptops" they’re bringing drive height into the equation. Their new Spinpoint M6 drive offers the same 500 GB of storage that we’ve seen from Hitachi, but the difference that I see is the 9mm height of the M6 as compared to 12.5mm for a Travelstar 5K500. We can quibble over a few milliimeters, but the fact remains: the new triple-platter M6 offers some serious bang for buck. $299 gives you the half-Terabyte of capacity in a 2.5-inch form factor spinning at 5400 RPM. You’ll need a lappy capable of using the 3.0 Gbps SATA interface of course.

For $199, you can drop down to 250 GB of capacity while stepping up your spindle speed to 7200 RPM in the same 2.5-inch footprint. According to Samsung, both drives are now in mass production, so get your mini-screwdrivers and your wallets ready. Let’s see how long it takes before a commenter has one in an HP Mini…

NTV Rerun: Funny or Die to Make Movies?

It was a year ago this week that a bottle-wielding toddler demanded rent money from Will Ferrell and kicked off a burgeoning comedy empire. Funny or Die celebrated its one-year anniversary with a celeb-studded tribute video and by sharing some plans for upcoming features.

It’s been a crazy year for the comedy site. The Landlord started the site off with a viral bang, racking up more than 55 million plays to date, but follow-ups failed to generate as much heat as the original, causing some in the industry to question whether the site was too Ferrell-dependent.

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Sequoia Aims for Killer Cleantech Batting Average

It’s easy to invest in the growing number of cleantech startups — open wallet, toss money out onto the eco-friendly craps table. But it’s proving a lot harder to get returns from the companies, which often have longer exit cycles, and can require more capital than many traditional tech investments. As Fortune pointed out in November, five years after Kleiner Perkins made its first green investment, the firm had yet to make an exit.

That’s why we’ve been carefully watching the green thumb of granddaddy venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, which after more than three decades has helped fund industry pillars including Apple, Cisco, Electronic Arts, and Oracle. Sequoia has made fewer investments in the cleantech space than many of its green-minded peers, but if its electric vehicle battery bet A123Systems goes public, which it’s reportedly considering doing as early as this year, its batting average could be among the best in the cleantech investing world.

Sequoia partner and National Semiconductor Co-founder Pierre Lamond told us the firm’s cleantech strategy has been “more cautious” than its peers.

“We have not fallen into the feeding frenzy of our friends.

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