DCVC Thread

  • I wonder if Trevithick will mention cold fusion to these people . . .


    As a rule, VC firms are not interested in cold fusion because: 1. It is too risky, and 2. It is too early in the development of the technology.


    They want risk-free "hockey stick" investments where the technology is already proven and all you have to do is market it correctly to make a ton of money. There are occasional exceptions to this rule, such as Theranos. I believe Elizabeth Holmes claimed that was proven technology, or almost proven, but it wasn't. Nearly all late 20th century and 21st century "venture capital investments" have been people selling products invented and perfected by Uncle Sam. Nearly everything made by Microsoft in its first years re-engineered 1970s era software developed for mainframes such as the BASIC language, paid for by you and me. Nearly all of the technology use by Google and Facebook initially was the internet, paid for by taxpayers, with the profits going to private industry. It's a great way to make money if you can! The taxpayers take the risk; you take the profits. Granted, after Google was established and profitable, it began investing heavily in AI and other technology newer than the internet.


    It is too early, meaning cold fusion is still academic science, rather than anything like a practical technology. Academic science works best when researchers share every detail of their work, and encourage replications. That is the opposite of what industrial corporations do. Except with patents. They do share technology with patents, which is one of the main reasons the patent system is so important it was established in the Constitution.


    Things like indoor farming are being developed in the industrial corporate model -- keeping things secret. Every company has to rediscover the wheel. Computers and software have always been developed in the secret mode, but you can always reverse engineer the little devils, so that never worked. Self-driving cars are closer to the academic science model. Not because Ford or Toyota love open science, but because they have to coordinate closely with government regulators, safety experts, highway and road traffic controls, and so on. There must be standards which are carefully enforced. It is more like developing an airplane than a new way to grow cucumbers indoors.

  • JedRothwell


    I think DCVC likes the pre-commercial, R&D heavy stuff.


    Here's a presentation I posted somewhere in the Google thread:


    http://data.treasury.ri.gov/dataset/9bb2c90c-0020-42b4-8439-d86b95868652/resource/8159515e-b4e6-441c-a09e-9a91ce0d559b/download/DCVCBioIIRhodeIsland-sm.pdf


    They acknowledge his work in cold fusion, so hopefully it's on the cards for them. That they've also hired Rachel Slaybaugh is encouraging.


    I agree with your assessment though - it's very early for cold fusion. There really aren't even many viable candidates for investment; only Clean Planet, Brillouin and GEC spring to mind.


    So, if cold fusion makes the cut, it would seem likely to be one technology among many. As a fund general partner, it would be irresponsible for DCVC to make a large bet on a single technology. The reputational risk alone would preclude it.

  • Rachel Slaybaugh makes a very strong case for nuclear fission but the advantages of fusion will, I think become clearer at the next international conference on CF. Like most scientific advances which will be made with micro-printing at the atomic level, thin wafers of such new materials will hopefully make LENR an OBVIOUS Idea in hindsight. It has been obvious to us on LENR forum for some time, now it's up to Silicon Valley to come up with the new ingenious products, thin silicon wafers with co-deposited metalllic, hydrogen and deuterium lattices. The obvious choices of metal are Pd and Ni, but as with superconductors and superfluids there should be no a priori restriction on the materials used for experimentation.