Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Green Technology Is Not Disruptive Says Silicon Valley Veteran Bill Coleman

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 26, 2009

I recently met with Bill Coleman, one of Silicon Valley's most impressive entrepreneurs over the past 30 plus years. He's been at VisiCorp, Sun, he founded BEA Systems (sold to Oracle for $3.5bn), etc. His analysis of Silicon Valley's future is fascinating.

What was especially interesting about our conversation is that he doesn't see green/clean technologies as a disruptive technology. Yet Silicon Valley leads this nascent industry.

Mr Coleman says that green technology doesn't follow the Peter Drucker rule of being a disruptive technology, which means being 10 times better or cheaper than what was there before.

BillColeman21.jpg"In the green market, what we're displacing is cheaper per unit than what is displacing it. It won't be driven by a tsunami of adoption." He says companies and individuals will take their time before adopting more expensive green technologies, especially with the current economic condition.

However, this could change if President Obama's administration adopted a plan of offering incentives for the development and use of green technology. He says this would be a far better stimulus package.

"There are lots of benefits for humanity, but the economics of the green market won't drive a rapid adoption unless there are incentives."

Mr Coleman is a critic of the current government stimulus package, that focuses on physical infrastructure projects. He says that incentives for green technologies would create better quality jobs and have a longer term economic stimulus effect than pick and shovel jobs that end after the project is done. Green technology jobs have a longer life span than bridge or road projects.

Plus, infrastructure projects slow capital formation, he says, which is needed to fuel the next recovery.

Cloud computing, biotech, and nanotech are examples of Silicon Valley's best disruptive technologies, and they don't need any government incentives, says Mr Coleman. And these are industries where Silicon Valley leads.

The recession will hit hard, says Mr Coleman, but Silicon Valley will survive because it reinvents itself every ten years.

You can read the rest of the interview here:

Thought Leader: A Conversation With Valley Veteran Bill Coleman About The Economy And The Business Of Disruption . . .

Story link | Subscribe free | Categories: FutureWatch, Thoughtleaders




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