TJ Rodgers, the outspoken CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, was one of four Visionary Awards recipients at the Oscars of Silicon Valley June 21st – a gathering of Silicon Valley elite presented by SV Forum. He was introduced by Eric Benhamou of Benhamou Ventures who described Rodgers as “a tough boss, argumentative and very competitive,” and added “I’m using polite language here.”
Renowned for his libertarian views, and highly critical of government “meddling” in the economy, Rodgers, who led the acquisition of SunPower by Cypress in 2004, shared some of his business philosophy with Fresh Dialogues. And check out this VIDEO CLIP to hear why Rodgers almost named Cypress “Pear Tree” and how he maintains his passion for learning…in his hot tub, with the newspapers, a floating desk and LEDs.
TJ Rodgers on global warming
“Global warming is a secular religion…I call it the Church of Greenhouse Gases.”
TJ Rodgers on New York Times columnist and author of Hot, Flat and Crowded, Tom Friedman
“Friedman is doing a disservice to the American economy. He’s a writer. He knows nothing about cleantech and creating businesses and jobs.”
TJ Rodgers on the role of government in stimulating the green economy
“I believe in a level playing field. Scrap subsidies for oil….I’m against laws like AB 32.”
Note: In 2010, TJ Rodgers took a strong and vocal stand for California’s Proposition 23, which sought the suspension of AB 32, the law that regulates greenhouse gas emissions. He quit his position on the board of SunPower, adding, “I was at odds with the management of SunPower…they knew who I was when I saved their ass.” (referring to Cypress Semiconductor’s purchase of Sunpower in 2004 which proved to be a mutually advantageous choice for both companies)
TJ Rodgers on why you should invest in cleantech
“A ‘greater good” motivation is not a good argument. Business isn’t charity. Create products people need, efficiently and produce profit for shareholders. Profits give you the moral high ground…they make for a good economy and more jobs.”
TJ Rodgers on cleantech entrepreneurs who want to ‘save the planet’
“I’d be more skeptical about investing in cleantech entrepreneurs who are motivated by global warming…it’s like a religion. It’s not good business.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger may be a self confessed “lame duck” governor but he is so angry at two Texan oil companies for pouring millions into Proposition 23 that he is taking his considerable charisma and energy on the road to prevent it passing. The Proposition seeks to freeze the California governor’s landmark climate change legislation (AB 32) and undermine his green legacy. Arnold argues the economic case for investing in green innovation (emphasizing job creation) and looks West….
“China has made a decision – backed by billions and billions of dollars – that green tech is where the economic action is going to be…it’s an ancient culture with new ideas. We cannot let American be a young culture with old ideas.” Arnold Schwarzenegger.
You’ve no doubt heard about the November ballot measure (Proposition 23) which aims to to scupper California’s landmark climate change legislation, AB 32. In this Fresh Dialogues interview, Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, didn’t pull any punches in his response to those behind the plan.
“We’re not going to sit idly by and watch you dismantle our environmental achievements… which are also economic ones,” says Carl Guardino.
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents over 300 major companies in the valley, including Google, Hewlett Packard and IBM (approximately one in three private sector jobs) provides a proactive voice for Silicon Valley businesses on public policy issues, locally and in Sacramento and Washington D.C.
Here’s a recap of the issue:
AB 32 is the Golden State’s attempt to cap carbon emissions to 1990 levels by introducing a version of a cap-and-trade carbon tax which would hit power plants, refineries and cement manufacturers hard.
What is Proposition 23?
Supporters call it “The California Jobs Initiative,” and point to the high cost and potential job losses of implementing AB 32; but Proposition 23’s main impact would be to suspend (and effectively repeal) the provisions of AB 32. In turn, AB 32 supporters have launched a Stop Dirty Energy Prop Campaign to thwart the proposition. As of today, Proposition 23 is way ahead in the social media popularity index with over 4,500 Facebook “likes” for Prop 23 compared to just under 3,000 for its opponents.
And here’s how Guardino describes it:
“A veiled attempt to dismantle California’s environmental achievements.”
Who is behind it?
Two Texas-based oil companies, Valero Energy Corporation and Tesoro Corporation, provided the initial funding to launch the campaign. Valero donated over $4 Million to the cause.
“This is an economic engine not a caboose and we’re not going to let folks ruin the engine that continues to fuel the renewable energy, clean green economy. It’s not only good for our environment – and it’s critical – it’s also good for our economy and jobs; and we’ve proved that through innovation of products, processes and what we do with our people every day in Silicon Valley.”
“What’s wonderful about Silicon Valley is that it’s never been an ‘either or’ – it’s never been about the environment or the economy,” says Carl Guardino. “We can have our cake and eat it too.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State, George Shultzdelivered an eloquent summary of the facts surrounding AB 32(California’s answer to global warming) at the Silicon Valley Energy Summit at Stanford University on June 25. Shultz, a Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Instituteand Advisory Council Chair at the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, was billed as a Moderator/ Provocateur at the event, and despite his 89 years, he rose to the challenge and then some. In concluding remarks, he said it would be “an unmitigated disaster” if the measure to suspend AB 32 passes in the November election.
He was moderating a panel which included Lawrence Goulder, Director of environmental and Energy Policy at Stanford; Kevin Kennedy, Assistant Executive Office, Office of Climate Change, California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Peter Miller, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council. Check back for more details on each soon.
“The emission of carbon imposes a cost on society…you have to recognize that cost…” George Shultz
“If we’re going to level the playing field…we want a system that’s number one: effective… and number two: creates as little drag as possible or even gives a slight lift to the economy.” George Shultz
2. Advice to Governor Schwarzenegger on Gubernatorial candidates, Meg Whitman’s and Steve Poizner’s stance on AB 32 … that it’s killing jobs and should be repealed.
“Governor Schwarzenegger should pick up the phone to Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner and tell them to back off their inane commentary on AB 32. That it’s killing jobs….that’s just prima facie false.”
“Message to Governor Schwarzenegger: fantastic job that he’s done on behalf of solar …but as a leader of the Republican Party, I’d encourage him to work out a little bit on the Republican candidates… explain to them that our state and Silicon Valley has become a leader in clean tech because of the State’s strong support for (alternative) energy. It would be disastrous if it was suspended in any way.”
3. Will the Whitman/ Poizner stance on AB 32 backfire?
“That policy (proposal) is going to galvanize every person and every company involved in clean tech to vote for (Gubernatorial candidate) Jerry Brown.”