Is Going Green Good Marketing?

I’ve received an email from European SaaS All-in-One SMB provider 24SevenOffice (wow, that’s a mouthful, basically NetSuite+Office for really small businesses, see my earlier coverage):

2008 must be the year when we all act against the serious environmental threat that the world is facing. 24SevenOffice has developed “The Go Green Game”, a Flash-game that puts focus on the pollution caused by the millions of unnecessary server rooms and servers located in all companies.

In addition, 24SevenOffice will plant trees based on the number of players, in co-operation with Nobel Peace Prize winner Maathai’s Green Belt Movement. If you wish to make a direct contribution to the society, let yourself entertain at or forward this e-mail to friends, colleagues and business partners who are committed to the environmental battle.

Thank you for showing responsibility for the environment! The game can be found here:

I had mixed thoughts at first reading: Obviously environmental consciousness is becoming fashionable. Companies rush to launch their green initiatives in order to look “responsible corporate citizens”. OK, that’s the cynical view, but after all, these are often useful initiatives, and I’ve already said you don’t have to be purely altruistic to do good.

Whatever this game may be, it’s just a “save the earth” message, it’s not a vehicle to push 24SevenOffice products…

But wait! Like Columbo, when you think he’s gone, but comes back and drops the gist of the conversation, there’s a footnote here:

NB! The products mentioned in this e-mail are not the environmental sinners in themselves.
The environmental problem is based on the fact that most businesses, unnecessarily, have their own
servers and server rooms. This is the issue that 24SevenOffice is addressing.

Ahh…so it is advertising after all. Oh, well, it still delivers a correct message .. let’s check out the game itself:

I need to practice my swing, I could barely smash a few servers, look how much they’ve already racked up! Even worse, I’m not good in reading instructions, totally missed option#2, which is…no, I can’t tell you, it’s too violent.smile_devil

Joke apart, 24SevenOffice clearly has a point: maintaining millions of servers for (small) businesses is wasteful, switching to Cloud Computing allows central servers to be more efficiently utilized, we’re all saving energy.

As a side-note, I’ve just looked at a web-based service that allows us, as individual consumers “go green” – will report about it when they are ready.


SVASE Event: Clean Tech – What Corporate & Venture Investors Really Want to See

Clean-tech investing is at an all time high and is expected to flourish in a range of sectors, including renewable and distributed energy, advanced materials, transportation, and water purification and management. Many clean technologies are experiencing double-digit annual growth rates.
With the demand for cleaner technologies on the rise, Clean Tech is fast becoming one of the hottest areas of investment and technology development to be embraced by the corporate and venture capital communities.

But what technologies and business models are they looking for?

The panel discussion at this SVASE event will explore this topic to provide answers to the following questions and more:
• What are realistic financing strategies for Clean Tech companies?
• What sort of returns are investors expecting from Clean Tech, and over how long?
• What are the emerging hot technologies in this sector?
• What opportunities are there for entrepreneurs?

The Panel:
• Steve Eichenlaub, Managing Director, Intel Capital
• James F. Fulton, Jr., Partner, Cooley Godward Kronish LLP
• Steve Goldby, Partner, Venrock
• Susanne Zechiel, Director of Business Development, MMA Renewable Ventures
Moderator: Ed Ring, Editor, EcoWorld

WHEN: Thursday, January 24th, 6-8:30pm in Palo Alto.

I can give away a few complimentary tickets only via this URL.  When they are gone, you can still register at the standard rate of $20 for SVASE members, $49 for the general public.


Former SAP Exec Emerges to Deploy Grid for Electric Cars

When Shai Agassi, President of the Product- Technology Group in SAP left the software giant this March, his parting line “to pursue interests in alternative energy and climate change” could very well be viewed as a fashionable update to the old cliche of “leaving to pursue other interests and to spend more time with family”.

But in hindsight it’s obvious Shai knew exactly what he wanted to do next, as laid out in his blog post on Alternative Transportation within days after his departure:

…electric vehicles will become a reality within a short time frame, and will be cheaper to operate within a short time…

The consumer needs to feel comfortable driving an electric car with a ubiquitous charging infrastructure…

The grid needs to support the new load from this moving electrical appliance…

He then goes on defining his future role:

If you followed the history of the introduction of electricity through the first appliance – the electric light bulb – you know that there were three main players in the story: Edison, Tesla and Westinghouse…

…Tesla invented most of the essentials for the common grid we know and love today. The guy who deployed it in mass scale though was Westinghouse, which is the role we need in this new electric revolution – the business guy who deploys with the highest efficiency and best business approach. If Tesla Motors are the modern day Tesla, my hope is to play the role of Westinghouse, or some small part of that role.

Half a year later Shai re-emerged, launching Project Better Place, a company funded to the tune of $200M, which intends to deploy the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles.

Project Better Place wants to create the grid of recharge and battery exchange stations, and here comes the interesting part: they want to follow the mobile phone industry’s business model, offering subscribers to the grid subsidized cars that are “cheaper to buy and operate than today’s fuel-based cars”.

I’m sooo ready for a subsidized Tesla smile_regular

Update: Now that there’s a conversation going on about HaaS (Hardware as a Service), I’m going to declare the Shai-mobile CaaS: Car as a Service. smile_wink

Update: Watch Shai on CNBC, first live in the studio, then I believe remotely. Wonder why he put on a tie for the second round…perhaps Thomas knows(?)

Gotta love this quote:

This is not a science project. This in an integration project.

Related posts: WSJ ($), Green Car Congress, New York Times, Green Wombat, Crunchgear (calling Shai “some guy”), isRealli, Earth2Tech, Business Week, alarm:clock, Between the Lines, Techdirt, Babbling VC, VentureBeat, All Tesla Motors Blogs , The Energy Blog,


SVASE VC Breakfast with Gus Tai, General Partner @ Trinity Ventures

After a long break (for me) I’ll be moderating another SVASE VC Breakfast Club meeting Thursday, October 18th in Palo Alto.

As usual, it’s an informal round-table where up to 10 entrepreneurs get to deliver a pitch, then answer questions and get critiqued by a VC Partner. We’ve had VC’s from Draper Fisher, Kleiner Perkins, Mayfield, Mohr Davidow, Emergence Capital …etc. This Thursday I”ll have the honor of welcoming a repeat guest, Gus Tai, General Partner at Trinity Ventures. Instead of introducing him, I suggest you take a look at his impressive portfolio.

These breakfast meetings are a valuable opportunity for early-stage Entrepreneurs, most of whom would probably have a hard time getting through the door to VC Partners. Since I’ve been through quite a few of these sessions, both as Entrepreneur and Moderator, let me share a few thoughts:

  • It’s a pressure-free environment, with no Powerpoint presentations, Business Plans…etc, just casual conversation; but it does not mean you should come unprepared!
  • Follow a structure, don’t just roam about what you would like to do, or even worse, spend all your time describing the problem, without addressing what your solution is.
  • Don’t forget “small things” like the Team, Product, Market..etc.
  • It would not hurt to mention how much you are looking for, and how you would use the funds…
  • Write down and practice your pitch, and prepare to deliver a compelling story in 3 minutes. You will have about 8-10 minutes, half of which is your pitch, but believe me, whatever your practice time was, when you are on the spot, you will likely take twice as long to deliver your story.smile_wink The second half of your time-slot is for Q&A.
  • Bring an Executive Summary; some VC’s like it, others don’t.
  • Last, but not least, please be on time! I am not kidding… some of you know why I even have to bring this up.clock

For more information check out the SVASE event page, and don’t forget to register . See you in Palo Alto.

Update: I will also have a special guest: former entrepreneur-turned-into-VC, who got his fame as “the entrepreneur who won’t just take VC abuse.” That is of course before successfully selling his startup and becoming a VC Partner himself. smile_shades

Update: This event is now SOLD OUT. Next Thursday I will moderate a VC Breakfast in San Francisco with Robert Troy, Managing Director of Geneva Venture Partners.