Friday, September 17, 2010

Lessons from Panel- Emerging Markets: Greening Tech

Emerging Markets: Greening Tech was the theme of a panel moderated by Joel Makower of at the annual WITI (Women in Technology International) Summit earlier this week. Panelists Lorie Wigle (GM, Eco-Technology Program INTEL), Melody Haller (CEO, Antenna Group) and Bill Weihl (Google with the kick-ass title of Green Energy Czar) presented credible stories of how they got into the green energy space. Lorie said she took advantage of the Intel culture- If you see a problem own it.Her program is about exploring the smart grid for Intel products (new or existing). Her team is a lens into the opportunity area - the typical team profile is a person with a key skill, rounded out by an ability to see the whole solution - what role Intel plays what roles others play - Once an opportunity is identified the standard Intel businesses take it on. She said she had a hard time finding the right mix of skilled people (even though it seems that today everyone ants to be in the green space) - since the job is so new - they are called solution architect - the closest she could find in Intel HR nomenclature.
Melody said her job is propaganda for the good guys - technology for good. She says a number of folks she gets are "technology refugees" - people tired of doing technology that makes no difference. Such people make great hires because they have the technical skills but want change. She had hired 12 people from Her advice - identify one strong entry point (your skill) as an entry into the field and then build out the rest.
Bill came to Google from MIT from a CS background wanting to get  into the green space. The .org part of Google is investing in renewable - about 9 companies with a total of about 65mil. The .org is 1% of Google (money, hr etc). Often .org arm searches the opportunity and google company may take on product development also. He said Google is not hiring since they already have projects in the pipeline.

With a title like Emerging markets I had expected to hear more about innovation with developing countries. When asked all said that they had projects in emerging economies. Intel had an initiative around Concierge services and satellite based water management. Google, besides google earth had agriculture, cook-stoves etc on their radar. Bill agreed that the faster adoption of renewable technologies would happen in emerging markets (leapfrog effect). Melody had connections in Kubera and a couple of other funds.

In sum, the activity in green-space has ramped up considerably in the last 4 years- it means more competition but  also more opportunity for the right person.

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