Kleiner Perkins has invested in a startup that partner John Doerr says will improve battery power by 300% compared to the usual 1-2% improvements that we normally see in the industry.
Doerr declined to name the startup, saying it was “still in stealth”, but he said that he has “seen it work in a lab,” and that the company points to “the biggest, the single most disruptive thing, the game changer” in the industry.
“If you can find a way to double or triple the energy density, then you need less stuff to make it and it weighs less,” he explained. If Doerr is correct and the company succeeds, the technology will have bigger ramifications for how devices, from phones to computers to much bigger machines, can operate. “My dream is that we can make electric vehicles cheaper than those powered by internal combustion,” Doerr noted.
Doerr’s comments point to a bigger idea the investor has about the progress of Moore’s Law as we continue to move into the future. Moore’s Law — the idea that in computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles every two years — is tightly tied to the speed of innovation in many consumer electronics, particularly relating to the processing speed and memory capacity in devices. He thinks Moore’s Law “is going to run out of steam here in the next four to six years.” Moore’s Law, presenting VCs like his an area of opportunity, along with healthcare and education, for investment.
Doerr also discussed Moore’s second law, which states that the cost of R&D and manufacturing to develop these new chips rises exponentially over time as the chips get faster and better. Doerr mentioned the enormous expenses of new facilities being build by companies like Intel, and brought up a Kleiner initiative called Low Power Everywhere.
“At some point, you don’t have enough atoms,” Doerr said. The price of the next-gen facility is increasing at a rate more than Moore’s Law.”
He said the company has invested in another stealth company called Luxvue that he claims has a technical breakthrough in displays. He explained that displays waste a lot of energy and a more efficient display would waste far less battery power.
Moore’s Law is an area that Kleiner Perkins has been interested in for at least the past few years. In 2010, Kleiner partner Bing Gordon wrote a post titled, “The End of Moore’s Law: A Love Story,” in which he discussed the end of Moore’s Law and how it applied to Hollywood and the gaming industry.
TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington also prodded Doerr about the NSA, his investment in Zynga, and more lighthearted topics, like Yahoo’s new logo. Doerr jested that he thinks Yahoo should have gone with green for their new logo, but that he isn’t qualified to comment on the font choice.