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Vinod Khosla writes a scathing response to 60 Minutes’ ‘Cleantech Crash’ report

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has written a 2,000-word open letter to 60 Minutes and CBS in response to their recent “Cleantech Crash” report, which featured lengthy interviews with Khosla and a tour of one of Khosla’s portfolio companies. He asserts that there are numerous errors in the piece, that the journalists who made it were practicing “agenda-driven bastardization of news reporting,” and that the story “grossly misrepresented the state of the sustainable energy industry.”

You can read the entire letter here. He also says in the letter that Khosla Venture’s “cleantech portfolio is profitable.” Here’s my take on the 60 Minutes piece; here’s NRG CEO David Crane’s response; and here’s clean power entrepreneur and investor Jigar Shah’s take.

7 Responses to “Vinod Khosla writes a scathing response to 60 Minutes’ ‘Cleantech Crash’ report”

  1. Cliff Claven

    “Don’t know much biology . . . .”
    Khosla’s track record of backing biofuel companies that have not delivered on their promises speaks volumes about his lack of understanding of biology, chemistry, and energy: Cello, Range Fuels, Mascoma, Amyris, Lanza, Coskata, LS9, Gevo, KiOR, and non-fuel “green chemistry” companies including Virdia and Calera. These investments have absorbed more than a billion in private and public investment capital, and the ones that are still afloat have no prospects for positive ROI.

    Khosla is almost as good at selling snake oil as Cool Planet, who have hoodwinked Google and GE. 2014 will continue to reveal how expensive ignorance of the laws of thermodynamics can be to investors who follow self-proclaimed geniuses without doing their own due diligence.

  2. Generally, where there is smoke, there is fire. Even if 60 Minutes got a lot wrong, it can’t be all wrong. So maybe Khosla Ventures does have a bit of a problem in its clean tech portfolio?

    • snuggles

      I know Khosla’s got skin in the game so it’s his best interest to put a good spin on greentech, BUT…

      1) Pointing out “FACT” screams to naysayers “this isn’t a fact.”
      2) A Benghazi reference? C’mon…
      3) Referencing costs of patrolling the Arabian Gulf is a weird statement to make.
      4) The clean economy allegedly employs over 2.7 million workers? Orly? The footnote just references that Brookings Institute said it, not a source article. It’s weird because 9.8 million people are employed or have links to oil/nat gas.

      I would hardly call this response scathing. It needed an editor to put some coherence into the argument. Yes, we know that 60 Minutes has a horrible track record when it comes to reporting, but this response wasn’t persuasive.

      • Mike Pfirrman

        I don’t know why you think referencing patrolling the Arabian Gulf is “weird”. We do it simply to protect our oil interests. The cost of the Iraq war over time will eclipse on trillion alone. What was that about? Is it “weird” or inconvenient to mention it. Please don’t even dare say humanitarian. Why are we not in Syria then when genocide was going on? I agree completely with every point he makes.