Transphorm-ative Cleantech Story

By Joey Marquart

(l-r) Bill Maris, Google Ventures; Umesh Mishra, Transphorm; and, Randy Komisar, KPCB speak during the February 23, 2011 Transphorm press conference (Photo by Ucilia Wang, GigaOm)

As Kate Galbraith observed in the New York Times this week, journalists are tired of the same old cleantech story. They want surprise, struggle, and proof of real business. The bar is high – and rightfully so. To be relevant in cleantech today, you need more than good technology. You need counterintuitive (man bites dog) and immediate practicality (now vs. 2020).

We organized a press conference in Mountain View this week for a promising company called Transphorm that does both. The company’s power conversion technology, pardon the pun, is shocking. It reduces power waste by servers, laptops, electric vehicles, solar panels, etc by 90 percent. That’s a whopping number. But wait, there is more of the man bites dog. Companies are paying hidden taxes on this wasted energy, adding up to $40B per year. The amount of energy we waste is greater than the clean energy we generate from the sun, wind and other renewable sources. Watt?!

Thirty journalists participated in what was called the biggest cleantech launch since Bloom Energy. Of course it helped that we launched the company with its prominent investors including Google Ventures and KPCB. But the data also shows that the energy efficiency duckling, which once paled in comparison to shiny new solar panels, is becoming a swan. In fact, more investments were made in energy efficiency in 2010 than any other clean tech category. Technologies like Transphorm’s power conversion solution can have immediate and dramatic impact on energy consumption with an elegant, practical technology that does not requires years of patience and experimentation.