Monday, March 26, 2007

Interview with Jack Uldrich

Today I would like to present an interview I did with my friend and colleague Jack Uldrich on investing in nanotechnology.

RR: What have you learned since writing The Next Big Thing that helped with Investing in Nanotechnology?

I wrote Investing in Nanotechnology because I am now more convinced than ever that not only do executives need to understand how nanotechnology will affect the future of their business but now so must investors.

The advances that have been made in the field of nanotechnology since I wrote The Next Big Thing in 2003 have been absolutely startling. The pace of change is almost exponential and there is scarcely a day that goes by without some major development being announced. Those people who are unaware of these advances -- and who aren't making it a point to track these developments -- will be at a distinct disadvantage and could end up losing a sizeable amount of money. This will happen either because they miss opportunities to invest in new companies or they don't understand how some of their current investments may be rendered obsolete by new advances in nanotechnology.

RR: What do you say to potential investors about companies that are raking in tens of millions of dollars in VC funding without having a near-term product?

First off, neither VC's nor individual investors should invest in "science projects." If a company doesn't have a real product (or at least a plan to develop a real product) - stay away! Having said that, I am comfortable if a VC chooses to invest in a company that may not have a viable product for 3 to 7 years - after all it is their (or their investors) money they are using. The greater threat I think is that many of nanotechnology companies don't know which market they are going to attack first. I am always nervous when a company states that it has "exciting" or "promising" nanotech applications in a variety of markets, including the material sciences, semiconductors, energy, pharmaceuticals, etc. A good company understands which market offers its investors the best opportunity and then pursues that market. If it is successful in that area then it can move on to other areas.

RR: In your opinion, does adding "nano" to a company's name add to or take away from it's value, and why?

All things being equal, I believe the term "nano" takes away from a company's value. As I said earlier, every investor should strip the term "nano" away from the company and investigate it from the perspective of whether or not it is creating an actual product that can succeed in the marketplace. I also believe that it is possible the term "nanotechnology" could come to have a negative connotation in the public's mind at some point in the future. This is especially the case if certain nanomaterials or nanoparticles are found to have adverse affects on either the environment or human health.

To read the entire interview:

No comments: