Bob Metcalfe’s First PowerPoint Ever: The Ethernet Inventor Unveils the “Enernet”
Despite having sat on the board of Forethought, the software company that developed PowerPoint before being acquired by Microsoft in 1987, Bob Metcalfe never actually learned to use the program. Until last week, that is—just days after his 62nd birthday.
So what could the Ethernet co-inventor, 3Com founder, venture capitalist, and legendary pundit have to say now that requires bolded fonts, two types of bullet points, and strategic use of color? It’s his manifesto on what he’s calling the Enernet—the idea that we can learn from the history of the Internet “how to meet accelerating world needs for cheap and clean energy.”
Metcalfe unveiled the idea—and the PowerPoint—at last week’s AlwaysOn Venture Summit East. CNET’s Martin LaMonica caught Metcalfe’s talk and wrote that “his comparisons are instructive. Like the Internet, energy will be distributed; there will be a layered architecture that provides flexibility; and energy should be cheap and abundant like bandwidth is becoming.” And true to form, Metcalfe has peppered his presentation with bold predictions and clever jabs and provocations: Energy research is best done not in corporate monopolies or government labs but in universities, “if only they were better managed.” There are bubbles forming around global warming, energy technologies, biofuels, and algae farming (one of Metcalfe’s current personal focuses)—and that, he says, is a good thing. His parting exhortation is my favorite: “While doing cheap and clean energy, we need research in climate control. Let’s control Earth’s albedo with benign reflecting nanoparticles in the upper atmosphere; let’s position a retractable photovoltaic and reflecting parasol at L1. Then we’ll have to argue about what temperatures we want.”
If you missed the presentation—as we sadly did—fear not. We’ve got Metcalfe’s PowerPoint right here. In an e-mail he sent along with the file, Metcalfe said he’d be building on his Enernet idea for another year, and welcomed comments along the way. So take a look at the presentation and have at it in the comments section below. We’ll make sure Bob hears what you have to say.