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June 23, 2010

More VC Bloggers Needed (Seriously)

A cry for more VC bloggers is crazy, right?  There are already 150 or so who are actively blogging - which I estimate means 15% of all active VCs serve as bloggers.

Yet, we need more.  We need the life science and cleantech VCs to start blogging.

I was leafing through the NVCA's 2010 Yearbook last week while on vacation (go ahead, call me a geek) and was really struck by the amount of dollars that go towards the life sciences and cleantech portion of our industry as compared to IT.  Of the $17.7 billion of venture capital invested in 2009, only $8.3 billion - less than half - went into IT-related companies.  $6.1 billion (35%) was invested in life sciences companies and $3.3 billion in other companies.  Industrial/energy investments represent 13% of VC dollars.

Yet, When you look at the VC-entrepreneur dialog that's going on online, t's probably 90% IT-related.  Very, very few of the 150+ VC bloggers and Tweeters are from the life sciences or energy sectors.

It's really a shame, because we need to hear their voices.  

Take the following example - when the NY Times recently wrote a cover page article criticizing the human genome project as part of a 10-year look back, there was silence in the VC/entrepreneur blogosphere.  Imagine if the article were:  "Social media found to be useless" or "Broadband totally over-hyped, has no impact on innovation."  Whether the article is right or wrong, at least it would have stirred vociferous debate!

Another example - I was at the AlwaysOn/HBS conference yesterday listening to a lean start-up panel and Eric Ries claimed:  "lean methodologies can be applied equally to life sciences and clean tech start-ups".  Really?  That would be a great debate amongst VCs and entrepreneurs from those fields.  Who's going to lead the Fred Wilson vs. Ben Horowitz fat vs lean start-up equivalent debate?

There are a few standouts.  I applaud Rob Day (his blog is GreenTechMedia) of Black Coral Capital, Tom Pincince from our portfolio company, Digital Lumens, Bilal Zuberi and others who are beginning to add their voices to the mix in the energy sector.

But life sciences is really a black hole, with 35% of the dollars and probably <5% of the dialog.  Christoph Westphal's recent piece in the Boston Globe on how to address the continuingly high costs of drug development was excellent.  But because it was in a traditional media outlet, there was no dialog.  It's a shame the top 10 life sciences investors aren't taking the time to make their voices heard. 

Who out there from these sectors can we convince to start blogging?

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Ping Keith Dionne, CEO of Surface Logix; was CEO of Atlantos. His would be a great voice to add to the mix.

I suspect the dearth of life science and clean tech bloggers directly corresponds to the relative lack of need to directly market to companies in those industries. On the IT side, sales and marketing are often key to success of companies; cleantech and life sciences (particularly at the early stages) is far more focused on research and initial product development.

Vinod Khosla is also writing some perspective pieces for GTM. http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/what-really-matters-in-thin-film-solar-startups/

Neal Dikeman also blogs - http://www.cleantechblog.com/

Interesting point above as well, regarding marketing. There are definitely differences between the IT and cleantech worlds in that regard. Especially in solar. Smart Grid much more akin to IT in that regard that other cleantech segments.

When I was at Starfish Ventures, investing in cleantech companies, I maintained my blog at www.aaronfyke.com. Now, I am a cleantech entrepreneur, but I still focus on venture and the entrepreneur space.

To further Ben's point... I think it goes a bit beyond marketing.

IT innovators typically need high levels of development support from the rest of the community to be successful - a new web-based solution may in the end consist of just 2% actual new code.

New solutions are highly reliant on existing solutions - which is why reaching out to IT folks via blogs is an essential part of shaping an emerging technology.

Life sciences guys don't have the same need (their interface is a living organism, not other products of their industry - except where contraindications are found). They can be successful without any reliance on other partners.

This will change when the need arises to marry data networks and biology within a single machine, and create the standards and control systems - the "rails" - for that industry. But that's a while away yet.

Hmm nice post..interesting..I like this post..Hmm thank you for posting this article..It gives me some idea and info..

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Very true. It’d be good to hear their
voices, all the same, even if the need isn’t as obvious for them.  Policy debates
are central to life science and clean tech investors and can be waged
effectively online.
 

wtf was that?

Jeff Bocan of Beringea blogs at Huff Post about Midwest VC issues, and often those posts center on cleantech initiatives or companies. His newest post is on LED lighting and a Michigan company who is participating in the space:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-bocan/michigans-light-at-the-en_b_641335.html

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Great addition – thanks, Kelly!
 

Very true. When I was raising the first round for my medical device company, it would have been incredibly helpful to read VC/Entrepreneur blogs in the industry. Maybe, I'll start a medical device blog for entrepreneurs...

Donald. I think that would be a great idea. I'm currently working on a blog (particularly in the field of diabetic supplies) for readers in my industry. What you think? Is there hope?

- Aurora

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