Tony Perkins: Green Bubble or Obama Bubble?

Tony Perkins: Green Bubble or Obama Bubble?

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh DialoguesTony Perkins  Fresh Dialogues Interview 2009

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I caught up with Tony Perkins, founder of AlwaysOn and Red Herring Magazine, just before he opened the third annual GoingGreen Conference in Sausalito, California. He agreed to talk for five minutes but well, we got talking…about what’s hot in the green sector, the downside of going green, and his thoughts on a Green bubble …and an Obama bubble. The online media pioneer also shared his predictions for 2010:  citing online video as the highest growth area.

On the power of the green economy

“We’re probably on the steepest innovation curve we’ve ever seen and of course, it’s always the innovation driven companies that create the most growth in the economy and the most new jobs. It’s clear that the world is becoming more committed to being kinder and gentler to itself and that’s going to create a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial opportunities.”

Predictions for 2010: the hot green sectors

“Hopefully we’ll see a lot of new IPO activity, generally in the energy space. The solar space will continue to be the leading, more mature part of this world. Underneath that, water restoration is becoming a really big deal…The whole green movement has been moving aggressively into the building and materials space. Biofuels and nanotechnology will be a little more out on the horizon.”

Tony Perkins on Fresh Dialogues 2009On the downside of going green

“A lot of industries are going to be destroyed by new ways of doing things over the Internet and by people turning away from old habits and moving into more green habits.” (e.g. the newspaper and auto industries)

Predictions for 2010 – Online Media

“You are going to continue to see an explosion in what we call open media (social media, blogging etc)…now it’s about creating and sharing content. I think online video is going to continue to be the highest growth area and of course the advertising world is going to have to wake up and say, ‘hey – newspaper, movies and TV are going to be a shadow of themselves when this is all over… so we need to start moving our ad dollars online.’ ”

You wrote ‘The Internet Bubble’ and predicted the dot com bust, are you at work on ‘The Green Bubble’?

“I think the Green Movement is here to stay and there’s a lot of legs…Right now, I’m working on ‘The Obama Bubble’…he came with a lot of fanfare but some would say he’s spending money like a drunken sailor and I’m seeing a pretty large backlash right now in Silicon Valley…a big concern about the whole movement toward centralization of government. I also see them playing with ideas for regulating the venture capital industry…and that would be a major mistake. I would say the greatest threat to the global Silicon Valley is too much central power and too much spending…screwing up the free market environment. Using the bully pulpit to encourage people to be more green is a very good thing for the government to do but when they start trying to create markets, it gets a little dicey.”

On the $465,000 government loan guarantee to Tesla Motors

“For years, people were really concerned about its business model because it was producing nifty little cars, but extremely expensive… and they lined up government backing. Is that a good investment for our tax payers’ money? Or is that propping up a company that still needed to prove its business model?”

The interview was recorded at the GoingGreen Conference, Cavallo Point, Sausalito on Monday September 14, 2009. Check back soon for other featured interviews and wisdom garnered at the conference from Jim Woolsey of Vantage Point, Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, David Chen of Morgan Stanley, JB Straubel of Tesla Motors, and Stuart Evans of NovaCem.