Monday, August 10, 2009

Vinod Khosla: A123, EEStor Not So Hot, My Investments Good

They didn't go as far as the Tarzan, Tonto and Frankenstein monosyllables* but the headline is still pretty funny.
From Greentech's Greenlight:

Vinod Khosla, the man behind Khosla Ventures, is listing his turn-offs again.

The "What Vinod Doesn't Like" piece is pretty much a standard, recurring phenomenon in green. A few years ago, he argued with Hermann Scheer from the German Parliament, about photovoltaic panels. At other times, he's championed ethanol and criticized other approaches.

In Grist this week, Khosla criticizes battery maker A123 Systems, which makes lithium ion batteries, and EEStor, an ultracapacitor maker.

A123, he points out, lost out to LG Chem in the contract for the Chevy Volt:

"I think the traditional approach to lithium ion battery making, such as A123, is going to be competing in an overheated, nearly-commoditized market and will probably not (I guess never say never!) get down the cost curve in the next 5 years... A number of incremental improvements are underway, but they will at best offer a 2X improvement in price performance."

Like other lithium-ion battery makers, A123 will also be hampered by the fact that these batteries have flammable electrolytes, which forces companies to insert expensive safety measures, and won't live up to performance claims. It's a legit argument in many ways. To make its battery safer, A123 uses a lithium-phosphate chemistry, which can't hold as much energy as the more volative lithium cobalt or lithium-nickel manganese. One of the reasons General Motors went with LG Chem was the chemistry issue. Nonetheless, Chrysler has signed a deal with A123....MORE

Turnoffs include...

*SNL Season 13, episode 8:

Succinctly Speaking

Kathleen Fulmer...Nora Dunn
Tarzan...Kevin Nealon
Tonto...Jon Lovitz
Frankenstein...Phil Hartman

[Open on talk show set with title SUPER: "SUCCINCTLY SPEAKING." Theme music plays. Seated from left to right are Frankenstein, host Kathleen Fulmer, Tarzan and Tonto]

Don Pardo V/O: "Succinctly Speaking" with Kathleen Fulmer.

[Applause as camera zooms in to Kathleen]

Kathleen Fulmer: Good evening and welcome to "Succinctly Speaking." I'm Kathleen Fulmer. My guests today include Tonto, Tarzan and Frankenstein. All right, Tarzan, let's start with you: Fire.

Tarzan: Fire good.

Kathleen Fulmer: Mm-hmm. Tonto?

Tonto: Fire good.

Kathleen Fulmer: All right. Frankenstein?

Frankenstein: [Growls] Fire bad!

Kathleen Fulmer: Okay, we have a difference of opinion, and I think that's what makes our forum work, the give and take. Don't you think? [Tarzan and Tonto nod. Frankenstein scowls at Kathleen] Okay, let's move on, shall we? Bread.

Frankenstein: [Growls] Bread good!

Kathleen Fulmer: Hold on. Hold on, Frankenstein, we'll get to you. Tonto?

Tonto: Bread good, Kemo Sabe.

Kathleen Fulmer: Mm-hmm. Tarzan.

Tarzan: Bread good.

Kathleen Fulmer: All right.

Tarzan: I no.. I no eat bread.

Kathleen Fulmer: Good. Frankenstein?

Frankenstein: Bread, gooood!

Kathleen Fulmer: All right. Now before we move on, let's talk about something that is in the news very much these days: the I.N.F. Treaty. Tarzan?>>>MORE