Monday, July 7, 2008

EEStor Permitivity Test Clue from Richard Weir, EEStor CEO

I spent part of my day trying to figure out why Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers does not list EEStor as one of their investments on their website.  To find out, I called Bill Joy's office and his secretary informed me that KPCB's only investments are the ones listed on the website and EEStor is not listed.  I got the feeling she was a little confused and won't describe the ensuing conversation.  But it caused me to get really curious about this topic and for some reason, I stumbled on Joel Serface as a place to focus more attention.  Why so?  

Well, Mr. Serface is new to KPCB and his prior employment as Director of the Austin Clean Energy Incubator organization which is part of the Austin Technology Incubator. I was told today by someone who has worked with Mr. Serface that he knows everyone in Austin in the Clean Energy space.  I thought it was interesting that Mr. Serface had been quoted in an article that was focused on EEStor and companies like it.  HHhhmm, I thought, Austin Energy Company expert goes to Kleiner do what exactly?   So, I got Mr. Serface on the phone and asked him, "Did Kleiner hire you to run their EEStor investment?"  Simple question, right?  I got alot of no comments but Mr. Serface did say that he was "not involved" with EEStor and that I should seek more information from EEStor or "someone more knowledgeable about the topic."  I said, "should I ask Bill Joy?"  "No Comment."   He was polite but I was clearly not on his agenda today which I'm alright with obviously.

When I originally called KPCB today, I picked someone randomly on the GreenTech team (look it up) and asked the receptionist if I could speak with them. The person I chose had a secretary that indicated he/she did not work on that investment.  I asked that secretary who I should instead talk with and she said, "hang on a second, we have a database...(long pause) to Bill Joy. "  So apparently, what's on the website does not equate exactly to their internal database. 

So, I still felt like KPCB's secrecy about EEStor was strange.  Then I came across this article which talks about their investment in an electric car company from Norway called Think Global.  Their goal is to bring 50,000 EV's to the US late next year. TG uses lithium ion technology.  Now, it's not unusual obviously for anyone to hedge their investment bets.  But it did strike me as a little bit interesting that EEStor's two biggest investors are somewhat significantly competitors in the EV space.   Not a big deal?  Zenn Motor confirmed they had not been approached by KPCB for this initiative. 

All of this t left me wondering about the KPCB investment in EEStor and so I decided to go to the best source of info on this, Richard Weir, CEO of EEStor.  I just asked him directly if KPCB was still invested in the company and he said yes and that he is happy to be associated with them.  We went around the horn a bit and of course, as with everyone out there, I had to ask about the permitivity tests.  That's when a clue popped up that I hadn't expected. 

Blogger:  What about the permitivity testing? Is it going to happen?

Richard Weir: Everything here is quite going along exceptionally well. We're very happy with things. And things are going exceptionally witnessed by the Lockheed Martin contract. What did Lockheed Martin say, "does it work?"  They said "yes".  Next, they were asked can they produce it?  They said "yes."  So there's your answer. "  

The conversation came to an abrupt end.  But I really started thinking about what he said here. This is my take.   If you ask him about the permitivity testing, he will cite the Lockheed Martin statements.  (He did this before in the prior interview. ) He seems to be holding up Lockheed as a quasi-third party entity that is not officially touting capabilities but nonetheless is doing so.  Granted, everyone is waiting for an independent 3rd party test and Lockheed is not the entity to do that. But for some reason today it clicked a bit more.  Everyone's been asking does EEStor have anything that works? If yes, can they mass produce it?  Richard Weir is saying Lockheed knows and has announced the affirmative to both.  

Most Widely Read Article on this EEStor Blog

Just wanted to say thanks to Tom Villars for his work on this prior article where he offered a way of thinking about the value of Zenn Motor's stock. It's been the most widely read article on this blog and readership has crossed into the thousands.   There are quite a few links in from investment & stock forums. 

Energy Storage Article mentions EESTor

I guess I missed this one from a couple weeks ago.  CNET has an article on Energy Storage trends and mentions A123 and EEStor.  When I interviewed Ian Clifford awhile back, in our conversation, he mentioned grid stabilization but I had no idea what he was talking about. Check it out.