The Chinese Decade

Something has been bothering me lately and it is our assumption that China is the world’s next superpower and that we’d darned well better get used to it. Hogwash. We’re into the Chinese decade, not the Chinese Century.

The century belongs to India.

Last century was all-American. We came into the 20th century a huge but unsophisticated nation. Our industrial might made us a factor in World War I. Our cultural ingenuity caught the world’s fancy in the 1920s and — 90 years later — still hasn’t let go. As a result this will not be the Bollywood Century. The Great Depression secured our place at the table by showing we could take much of the world […]

By |October 31st, 2010|2010|149 Comments

License to Print Money

Photovoltaic solar cells have been part of renewable energy planning for as long as such planning has existed, with most of those solar cells made from crystalline silicon with energy conversion efficiencies above 20 percent. But crystalline cells are expensive and take a lot of energy to create, reducing their net energy contribution. Fortunately there are other types of solar cells including thin film, amorphous, plastic, and others. All of these are cheaper than crystalline cells though they also tend to have shorter working lives and lower efficiencies. We care about them, though, because organic plastic solar cells in particular offer the prospect of producing the cheapest electric power of all. That is if one […]

By |October 26th, 2010|2010|109 Comments

Energy Past, Energy Future

I used to write about the oil business. It was a diversion from high tech I took for a couple years in the early 1980s. I worked in Saudi Arabia, attended OPEC meetings in Geneva and Vienna, and hung with a variety of characters from the era of what we called the energy crisis. This column is not about that crisis per se, but rather about how that crisis and our current energy situation are so different and yet so alike. Very interesting things are happening in the energy market — things that have taken 30+ years to come about. The future of energy isn’t what most people — even heads of state — think it is.

It’s better.

First understand that the original energy crisis […]

By |October 25th, 2010|2010|87 Comments

AOL+Yahoo is a Jealousy Game

If you think AOL actually intends to buy Yahoo, you are wrong. That story hit the press this week but it’s a ruse to motivate Google exactly as I explained a few days ago. AOL has neither the money nor the motivation to buy Yahoo, which is analogous to a bus company buying a poorly-managed airline.  AOL just wants to make Google jealous.

Here’s what I think happened. This is pure speculation on my part, of course, but I know most of the players and am even correct from time to time. I think one or more private equity firms brought the deal to AOL: they’ll put up the capital if AOL’s Tim Armstrong […]

By |October 15th, 2010|2010|50 Comments

Show Me the Money

I want to make a small point here about this week’s Windows Phone 7 launch from Microsoft. Now you can take this with a grain of salt given that I was an iPhone user until I switched this summer to Blackberry for my Startup Tour. So I am not exactly unbiased. But is it just me or are you, too, having a hard time seeing the $400 million that Microsoft claims to be spending on this product launch?

Redmond spent $100 million launching Windows 95, a number that set something of a record for its time and stood for long as the standard amount to spend if big companies were trying to make a point based […]

By |October 12th, 2010|2010|116 Comments