Xconomy Man of Year for 2010—Plus a Gigantic Energy Prediction for 2011

12/30/10Follow @BillAulet

My Xconomy “Man of the Year” for 2010 would not be Mark Zuckerberg (that should have been a year or two ago if you are on the leading edge like Xconomy), but rather Andrew Mason, founder of Groupon. The speed and magnitude that this business innovation achieved through this company was stunning and still boggles my mind.

Looking forward to 2011 with a crystal ball, I believe that there are two areas that are going to happen and maybe this will be the year. There will be profound transformations in the area of water (see this article that I wrote earlier in Xconomy), and another sleeping giant is shale gas. The discovery of $4 trillion of shale gas that is much cleaner than coal and located strategically in the Northeast close to the demand, and also in areas of highest political leverage (i.e., in the swing states), could fundamentally change the energy picture here in the U.S. This dramatic change in the status quo will create great innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities—a modern day Energy Gold Rush but on a much shorter time scale than solar and with more substantial immediate results. It will not be the perfect ultimate solution, but it could be a huge step in the right direction.

[Editor's Note: This is part of a series of posts from Xconomists and other technology and life sciences leaders from around the U.S. who are weighing in with the top surprises they've seen in their respective fields in the past year, or the major things to watch for in 2011.]

Bill Aulet is the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is also the author of “Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup”, published by Wiley, which was released in August 2013. Follow @BillAulet

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  • Dave Baldwin

    Shale gas might be attractive to the gas industry, and it is certainly cleaner than coal, but its development is devastating to the environment. The resulting groundwater contamination can be overlooked easily enough in an urban area where no one drinks the groundwater, but in a rural area, it can render communities unlivable and farms unfarmable. Large-scale exploitation of shale gas could make the BP spill look like a kindergartener’s “oops”.

  • http://www.scienceventures.dk Jens Damsgaard

    Shale gas is a big thing, for sure. Politically and financially.
    However, seen from at venture investmen/entrepreneurial point of view I would worry that the infrastructure assets are extremely capital intensive and are controlled by a few giants. In other words chances are that you will be forced in the arms of them. On the the other hand – if the price is right…
    To Dave: every one in Scandinavian cities (where I live) drink the ground watre right of the tap. I am sure we would’nt trade that for shale gas :-)