Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Michael Dell Evades 2008 Question About EEStor Inc.?

One of the enduring mysteries of the EEStory has been whether or not the tight connection between former Board Member Mort Topfer (see photo above) and Michael Dell would lead to any future business opportunities for EEStor Inc. Some have said that since Dell is an investor in some of the Kleiner Perkins funds, then maybe indirectly he has an investment in EEStor. One thing that is well known is the Weir's worked with the Topfer's at Dell, something that continues even today with EEStor Board of Director Greg Weir, a senior manager at Dell. But just because EEStor has ties to Dell doesn't mean that Michael Dell is personally aware of EEStor and it's battery pursuits. Or does it?

After extensive searching, I was somehow lucky enough today to find an interview of Michael Dell from February 27,2008 held at the University of Toronto (article hosted on Dell's website) in which he was asked about Mort Topfer joining the board of EEStor. Here's the exchange:

Question: It was announced on January 8th that Morton Topfer is joining the board of a mysterious

company out of Texas called E-store and a bit of background for no one who's ever heard of them, they

are claiming ultra capacitors with energy density -- 10 times the energy density of lead acid batteries at

a fraction of the cost, and charging time of five minutes. Do you think there is merit in this technology,

and where do you see it going?

MICHAEL DELL: Well, you know, I haven't studied the technology. Mort is a very bright guy and I

have a lot of respect for him. The area of energy storage is one where there is constant effort to create

the next innovation, but one also has to be very careful because energy storage is basically a way of

capturing energy so you release it very, very slowly. Of course if you get it wrong, it doesn't release as slowly, and that's not a good thing. (Laughter) So it sometimes takes a while to get these things right, and so I would just be cautious that there are a lot of these technologies -- claims like that have been made before and sometimes it takes a while for these

things to actually come to fruition. You know, most of the improvements in power have come not from

the power system itself, but from the reduction in power of the electronics. So we'd love to see

innovations and hopefully this company or others will be able to kind of break the curve that we've been

on with classical lithium, lithium ion, lithium polymer types of technologies.


I think any ongoing observer of the EEStory has to acknowledge a few things about this statement by Michael Dell. First, he is definitely aware of EEStor. Second, he seems to be hinting at precisely the thing that Dick Weir has said which is that the reduction of the power electronics has made the EESU possible---which indicates in all likelihood that he heard via EEStor. Thirdly, he's not ready to really talk about least at this Feb 2008 event.

So what would Dell do with a contract with EEStor Inc.? Maybe acquire a phone company, ie, Palm? How else could it compete with the Apple iPhone? ....and not to mention regain a lead in the mobile computing market place. And who at Dell would lead that charge or take a product through UL Certification? Michael, how's that for a slow release?

UPDATE: It's been pointed out to me that the Dell response is referring specifically to the reduction in power consumption of the electronics and not the reduction in size of the power electronics vis a vis recent EEStor revelations concerning power electronics. I admit that's an eminently plausible interpretation. I'll mull it over.

Update #2: I found the video of this event. It's on YouTube now: