Bob Metcalfe: Avoid the Pressure of the Green Bubble

Ethernet inventor turned cleantech venture capitalist Bob Metcalfe says a series of investment bubbles have swept up GreenFuel, the algae startup that he’s been leading as CEO for the past year. That would include not only the general global-warming bubble, which he says Al Gore has been helping to perpetuate, but also a biofuels bubble and an algae-to-fuel bubble. Man, that’s a sudsy market he’s been running in.

Which means he’s probably pretty glad to be stepping down from his post as interim CEO for GreenFuel. Metcalfe said on Tuesday that his company had finally chosen a permanent CEO ( see our story on that from yesterday morning) in former Dow Chemical exec Simon Upfill-Brown. Upfill-Brown starts July 23.

So what’s Metcalfe doing next? Well, he’s going to be spending more time investing in startups for the venture firm where he’s a partner, Polaris Venture Partners. Metcalfe tells us that for Polaris he’s already looking at another solar-cell startup (last March the firm invested in solar-cell maker 1366 Technologies), as well as both a geothermal and a nuclear firm.

Looking back, Metcalfe tells us that a major lesson he’s learned from running GreenFuel is, avoid getting wrapped up in an investment bubble — particularly when there are multiple bubbles surrounding your company. His advice to startups that find themselves in the midst of a bubble: Don’t let people think your startup is further along than it really is, Metcalfe says. “There’s a hazard of becoming a charlattan if a company responds to that kind of pressure.” Be strong guys.