Two years ago — when biofuels were all the rage, energy efficiency technology couldn’t get any love, and Obama’s massive energy investments were just a glimmer in entrepreneurs’ eyes — we launched Earth2Tech as part of the GigaOM Network. That was back when the clean technology sector was still in the midst of a massive upswing (more than $6 billion in investments in 2007, followed by more than $8 billion in 2008), and Internet entrepreneurs and investors were just starting to try to figure out how they could use their knowledge and Rolodexes to jump in and make money in the sector. Our goal was to try to build a site and a community around innovators that are using technology to fight climate change.
Two years later, after more than 3,500 posts, 16,000 comments and thousands of (wo)man hours, we’re looking at a very different landscape for the cleantech sector. As the folks at Green Sheet recently put it, we’re in the midst of the best and the worst of times for cleantech.
The best: Never before has the U.S. come so close to establishing a cap-and-trade system, which would put a price on carbon and help reduce carbon emissions (the Senate is set to review a cap-and-trade proposal as part of the climate bill in September). Congress and the Obama administration have allocated an unprecedented amount of funding for clean energy and energy efficiency as part of the stimulus package. Media and public attention increasingly focuses on the environmental impact of our choices and actions. Renewable power and energy efficiency is suddenly cool to study in universities, while green jobs are seen as the latest way to help beat the recession.
The worst: It’s the economy, stupid. In the midst of a cleantech investing boom and increased government support, the economy has been the biggest drag on entrepreneurs’ and investors’ ability to found, build and exit cleantech startups in recent months. Many companies are struggling to move forward because of financing constraints, and we’ve seen a wealth of bankruptcies across several sectors (including dozens of ethanol firms, risk-taking algae players like GreenFuel, and very early-stage technologies like the kinetic energy technology from M2E Power).
But in this changing environment, we decided it was a good time to give ourselves a mini birthday present, in the form of some design features that we’ve wanted for awhile, or as Om puts it, a tasteful face lift. These include:
Resources Tabs: Since we’ve spent two years compiling some meaty cheat sheets on the key players, technologies and issues (in the form of maps and FAQs) in various cleantech sectors, we’ve launched two new sections to make this good market-based content easier to find. We’ll be consistently updating the FAQ and Map sections over the next few weeks, so if you have suggestions on content you’d like to see, enter it in the comments or email us.
Feature Post: Since our biggest story of the day is often a longer, bigger article — a trend in a sector, a profile of an entrepreneur or a primer of what you need to know about an specific industry (like the smart grid) — we created this featured post box so that some of our original reporting will stay prominent at the top of the page. We’ll still add other news and content below the featured post throughout the day.
Categories Revamp: As the market has changed over the past two years, we felt the need to update our categories and bring them to the top of the page. Likewise the search box got bumped up, as well as our Twitter and RSS feeds.
We hope you enjoy our design clean-up and we thank you for reading over the past 24 months. As always, please let us know your opinions of our design, our coverage and what you want to see covered on Earth2Tech.