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Media Buy-outs Going Green

Green and clean media is going through a flurry of activity right now. And while still small as media companies go – just wait.

A few of the notable deals:

  • Just announced yesterday: The Cleantech Group, who popularized the term cleantech as an investment class, acquired Inside Greentech, an emerging media outlet for the green sector, for an undisclosed amount. Both of these businesses are run by friends of mine – and make for a great hook up. We did a blog in July on “Cleantech vs Greentech” that proved to be a bit prescient, it now seems. The inside scoop on this deal from a chat I had with my friend Dallas Kachan, the publisher and founder of Inside Greentech “Inside Greentech is already the most widely-read trade publication covering daily business and technology developments in cleantech. As Cleantech.com, we will become the highest profile, go-to media platform for cleantech-related developments.”
  • Leading green blog portal Treehugger was acquired by Discovery Channel just a few weeks ago. The deal metrics were rumored to be a $10 mm purchase price for a 1.4 mm hit/month site. This deal got a tremendous amount of press – and helps anchor the feeling that mainstream media deals and cleantech title launches are not far away.
  • Lightspeed Ventures and Northpoint Private Equity recently backed the launch of Greentech Media, including the acquisition of the cleantech focused Venture Power Newsletter – popular in the venture capital sector.
  • And while I can’t say who, there are a couple of other big names in the sector with deals in the works.

Before Dallas Kachan and I finished our chat, I asked him what we should expect from all of this – his short answer was that as the cleantech sector continues to explode the big media names are going to take notice.

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, a Contributing Author for Inside Greentech, and a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks.

Cleantech vs. Greentech

Cleantech vs. Greentech

The Cleantech vs. Greentech debate. I chaired the recent Greenvest 2007 conference in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago on investing in green technology. Nick Parker, Chairman of the Cleantech Group did an opening address on the state of the industry – which brought to mind the question of what exactly one should call the industry.

Is it “Green” or is it “Clean” Technology? So I thought that perhaps a brief discussion of the differences and the history is warranted.

Cleantech – Google search 1.24 million results (1.78 million for “clean tech”).

“Cleantech” is a term popularized (and I believe coined) by friends of mine who founded the Cleantech Venture Network (now Cleantech Group) in about 2002 as an umbrella term to describe the “green and clean” technologies that venture capital investors were turning to in increasing numbers as the next big thing in technology investing after the collapse of the tech boom. Before that, my colleagues and I referred to ourselves at Jane Capital as working on energy and environmental technology (a bit cumbersome). And energy tech is still a term used in many investing circles, though it has been quite heavily consumed inside the Cleantech umbrella. As a side note – before it’s coining as an asset class and technology category, “cleantech” as a word was most likely to refer to dry cleaning equipment.

Here’s straight from the horse’s mouth: “The concept of “clean” technologies embraces a diverse range of products, services, and processes that are inherently designed to provide superior performance at lower costs, greatly reduce or eliminate environmental impacts and, in doing so, improve the quality of life. Clean technologies span many industries, from alternative forms of energy generation to water purification to materials-efficient production techniques.” – Cleantech Venture Network

From Wikipedia:

“Cleantech or clean tech is generally defined as knowledge-based products or services that improve operational performance, productivity or efficiency while reducing costs, inputs, energy consumption, waste or pollution.

Cleantech is differentiated from green technology since it generally refers to the emerging financial industry (as opposed to the actual technology in which the industry invests). Specifically, the investment focus includes water purification, eco- Efficient production techniques, renewable energy, green technology, sustainable business. Since the 1990s the financial community began more active interest and investing into the Cleantech space.”

Greentech – Google search 526,000 results (741,000 for “green tech”).

The term “Greentech” on the other hand, popularized by venture capitalists John Denniston and John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins, has become almost a synonym for cleantech since about 2005 as more mainstream venture capital and Wall Street investors began entering the sector increasing numbers – and has been heavily picked up in the mainstream media – as well as new media startups like Inside Greentech and recently launched Greentech Media. Riding on the coattails established by “cleantech” – some have tried to characterize greentech as “different” to cleantech, and as more than just a subset of the cleantech umbrella. It has also been suggested that greentech is the re-emergence of an older term that never quite found broad appeal from its use in the early 1990s or prior – but is now. As a side note: I could find no greentech entry in Wikipedia yet.

““Clean tech,” as many past efforts at environmentally friendly industry have been called, hasn’t panned out from an investment standpoint, said Mr. Doerr, but “greentech” will.

The difference? The word “green” means money is to be made, he said. It’s about advances in areas such as nanotechnology and alternative fuels that mean that companies will succeed in the future where past efforts have failed.” – Red Herring

When I asked my friends Keith Raab and Nick Parker who cofounded the Cleantech Group to comment on why they coined the term “cleantech” – Keith Raab said “”who wants green air or green water”? The greentech term (and we use small caps unless referring to an org) is very retro and smacks of EPA type regulation. The whole reason we brought the cleantech term to market five years ago was to advance a new concept that reflected technological improvement and new concept. As you know, often cleantech is purchased primarily for non-environmental reasons even though it may offer significant environmental benefits. While some media outlets may be using the greentech term, just about all corps, Wall Street players and VCs who are active in the area use the term cleantech. We think there is room for various terms, eg “resource efficient” but from a capital markets perspective its important there is one term so that a defined asset (allocation) category emerges.”

But whichever term you prefer (at Jane Capital the team has been working in energy and environmental technology for over 30 years), it means building and investing in emerging technologies that are better for energy and the environment. And that means better for all of us.

As a personal note on which term I use – at Jane Capital we have founded and I write and edit the Cleantech Blog, one of the leading sites for news and analysis in energy and environmental technologies (available as well on GreentechBlog.com, of course). We are founding a venture on the portal Cleantech.org (soon to be launched) and I’ve recently joined CNET’s Green tech blog and write columns for Inside Greentech and AltEnergyStocks.com, but when people ask me what I do – I say “energy tech” or “cleantech”.

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, a Contributing Author for Inside Greentech, and a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks.

Cleantech Media Juggernaut is NOT Slowing Down

There is still lots of talk about a bubble in cleantech, in part because the media juggernaut that cleantech has become is NOT slowing down. You can always track the substance by watching what happens in the media and networking, so . . .

New things launched from some of my favorite media in cleantech:

Yahoo! has launched Yahoo! Green. The cleantech website for the mass market.

AltEnergyStocks.com, my favorite stock site in this sector, has launched a Cleantech News section.

The Wall Street Journal has launched Energy Roundup of the best of the blogosphere.

Major conference operator Terrapinn has entered the cleantech sector with GreenVest 2007 coming up locally in San Francisco on June 25-27. (I’m chairing it, so I promise it will be good!). But the real draw to this one are the point and counterpoint keynotes of Khosla Ventures and Cleantech Capital Group.

And my friends at Cleantech Capital, who started it all, have launched CleantechSearch.com, which since I have three of our startups actively out looking for execs, I can attest is in serious demand.

Just for grins, let us know in our comments section of any new product or website launches in cleantech and clean energy that you find of note, and whether you think they represent bubble, or substance.

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, a Contributing Author for Inside Greentech, and a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks.