Thursday, April 15, 2010

How Will Sulgraves Partners' Mike Long Help EEStor?

Anyone who has followed EEStor over the years has probably scratched their head once or twice concerning their communication planning. The press releases in the past haven't been written for the average Joe on the street. Dick's a smart engineering type who likes to talk a million miles an hour because he's genuinely excited but no one would mistake him for a media relations or media communications expert. You might even look at all of it and conclude that EEStor just does not care how their communications come off where, under this view, if they simply produce what they claim, all of that will handle itself.

But, will it?

Everyone knows EEStor has assembled one hell of a team (Kleiner Perkins?, Lockheed, Mike Long) but it's not clear from a communications standpoint that they are leveraging these veterans of public facing statements.

But now we're coming to a crucial part of the story. There's nothing left to announce by EEStor accept for the goods (powder purity in the parts per bazillion is OUT):

energy density
UL certification
production capabilities
actual orders
new partnerships
etc etc.

Will it happen all at once? Is there an ordering to how it will come off? What should their message be and how should they deliver it?

To answer these questions, you have to have an intimate understanding of what EEStor's short term goals are--which I do not. They've stated their long term goals and no one is confused about that. But how do they get from where they are now to wherever an announcement containing all or elements of the above list can take them?

Well, as far as I am concerned, if your name is Mike Long and you are a partner at Sulgraves Partners LLC, then IT IS GAME TIME. Several weeks ago, Mike told me Dick Weir was the spokesman for the company and that he was comfortable with that. But, in the event EEStor goes into full reveal mode, many are going to be watching how the communications come out and whatever happens, it's going to reflect directly on Mike Long as an EEStor board member. That's my position.

Sulgraves Partners bills itself as a Strategic Communications firm "tested by experience on the front lines of the modern 24-hour news cycle" according to their website. If that is true and if EEStor is about to deliver a technologically revolutionary product, then my take on it is that Sulgrave Partners, specifically, Mike Long will need to roll up his sleeves. A colossal media failure --even with this company many have never heard of---will impact Long's credibility as a partner of a firm of that type. (No Pressure, Mike, but that's why you get the big bucks, fella).

My hope is that EEStor and Mike Long are discussing past case studies of technology companies coming out of stealth. Bloom Energy had a pretty good reveal from a media exposure point of view. But that model may not be what EEStor wants. They certainly don't seem to be at the same stage Bloom is at--of course, they started later than Bloom according to Dick Weir.
From the sidelines, you almost want to say, "hey, try to stay away from outcomes like those experienced by Dean Kamen's Segway or Transmeta both of which were overhyped and under-delivered. " But is analysis of this type occurring at EEStor? Only time will tell.

My hope for EEStor is that it modestly announces its accomplishments which will establish finally true credibility with undoubtable 3rd party validation. I hope the message includes product specs, production expansion metrics/timeframes and new agreements. Nanosolar invited the media into it's factory. I don't think EEStor needs to do this but it probably wouldn't hurt to allow at least one member of the media to obtain a tour (maybe without a camera) and be allowed to write about the experience (similar to some of what the Canadian financial firms were allowed to do last year.) BTW, I'm not really angling to be that media source. I think I'd actually prefer it come from elsewhere--a legitimate media outlet for example.

In any case, what I do want the opportunity to participate in though is what will hopefully be a limited number of media interviews with Dick Weir to gain some insights on what it's been like to be cooped up in that tiny building in Cedar Park for the past 5 yrs trying to achieve something significant and meaningful.

So, in closing, if you're me, then EEStor Inc. and Sulgrave Partners are tied at the hip currently.

But what about Kleiner Perkins, won't their credibility be affected by the manner of the reveal? Don't they or shouldnt they have skin in the game? My take is that I actually hope they are not involved given a lot of the negative attention they've received with their investment companies obtaining all of this federal spending in what should be free markets. Why would EEStor want to be associated with financing Kleiner's risky ventures with public money that would be better spent on overall market segments via tax credits than betting on individual firms. I predict that these federally funded future failures (FFFF) will turn into it's own negative media storm. Take Fisker for example: do they have an agreement with EEStor or Zenn? Don't count on it. Why would they--because of all the fine work Kleiner has done for EEStor? (I don't see any supporting evidence of this). Someone correct me if I'm missing something.