Vinod Khosla Speaks at Seattle’s Algae Biomass Summit
This afternoon, I’ve been attending the second annual Algae Biomass Summit at the Bell Harbor Conference Center down by the waterfront in Seattle. This year’s conference has drawn 600 participants—who knew the algae community was this big already? Here at Xconomy, we’ve covered some algae biofuel startups with local connections, including AXI out of the University of Washington, and San Diego-based Sapphire Energy, whose investors include Arch Venture Partners and Bill Gates’s firm, Cascade Investment.
After a fascinating panel discussion on algae-based biofuels (more on that soon), it was time for the keynote address, by Vinod Khosla. Khosla is a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, a venture partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and founder of Khosla Ventures. A Silicon Valley celebrity, Khosla has invested in a number of cleantech and energy startups, mostly in ethanol and next-generation fuels (Gevo, KiOR, Amyris, LS9) and fuel-efficiency technologies (Transonic Combustion, Ecomotors).
Khosla is an interesting guy to be speaking here, because he hasn’t invested in algae—at least not yet. There has been some speculation that he’s looking into it more seriously these days. “I’m here because I believe in the potential of algae,” Khosla told the packed room. “We’ve looked at maybe 100 different plans on algae in the last few years.” One topic he wanted to cover was what factors would make him invest in algae as an alternative fuel technology.
He set the stage with some energy context. “It’s not cleantech that’s interesting, it’s ‘main tech,'” he said. By this he meant the huge, billion-dollar markets provided by traditional industries such as engines, lighting, applicances, batteries, cement, water, glass, gasoline, diesel, and power generation. To address these markets, whether you’re looking at algae biofuels or other technologies, he said, you need … Next Page »