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Bankrupt and infamous Solyndra has filed a $1.5B antitrust suit against Chinese solar vendors...

Bankrupt and infamous Solyndra has filed a $1.5B antitrust suit against Chinese solar vendors Suntech (STP), Trina (TSL), and Yingli (YGE), along with their suppliers and banks. Solyndra argues the Chinese firms drove it to bankruptcy by flooding the U.S. with solar modules priced below cost - it's probably not a coincidence the U.S. government officially imposed anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese module makers just days ago. But many have argued Solyndra's technology doomed the company.
Comments (20)
  • Sam Liu
    , contributor
    Comments (3864) | Send Message
     
    about time ...

     

    bring it on
    12 Oct 2012, 05:12 PM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    If China is manufacturing widgets or solar panels they will always be more competitive than the US for the foreseeable future. The business plan for this venture was based on free money from the US Government not on a competitive reality.

     

    We should be suing the company founders and some people in government for this ill conceived venture. And clawing back any bonuses that any Solyndra execs made while at Solyndra.
    12 Oct 2012, 05:24 PM Reply Like
  • Sam Liu
    , contributor
    Comments (3864) | Send Message
     
    sounds better
    12 Oct 2012, 05:51 PM Reply Like
  • sethmcs
    , contributor
    Comments (3327) | Send Message
     
    Solar is good for running a calculator or heating a pool. Other than that its useless.
    12 Oct 2012, 05:27 PM Reply Like
  • tvhead49
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
     
    You obviously don't know anything about solar.
    13 Oct 2012, 02:03 AM Reply Like
  • Tricky
    , contributor
    Comments (1583) | Send Message
     
    I don't mind the gubmint spreading several SMALL bets on high risk, but breakthru technologies at an early stage... especially to see if we actually can develop alternative sources of energy.

     

    But, jeebus, if you've gotten to the stage where you "need" 9 digits and the gubmint is practically your only source... the gubmint needs to apply a REALLY strict and skeptical filter on that request.
    12 Oct 2012, 05:59 PM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    There are PE firms and angel investors that already provide that function provided the technology and management are any good. The government will only get the crap that is left over which means big failure.
    12 Oct 2012, 06:16 PM Reply Like
  • Tricky
    , contributor
    Comments (1583) | Send Message
     
    Such financial investors do NOT invest at the early R&D stage. I live in that world... they don't. It is almost exclusively the province of government grants -- my understanding is that it is very similar in medical research, but I can't speak directly to that.
    12 Oct 2012, 06:32 PM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    BS. I live in that world too and am going through the 3 round of building another company.

     

    Do you even know what an angel investor is?

     

    Your claim of "almost exclusively the province of government grants" is ridiculous and just plain untrue. Our government knows little to nothing about investing or starting companies and especially in some of these agencies that have no development experience at all.

     

    If you are referring to giving grants to educational institutions then yes that happens all the time. That is a far cry from Solyndra's case.
    12 Oct 2012, 07:22 PM Reply Like
  • Tricky
    , contributor
    Comments (1583) | Send Message
     
    Yes, I know what an angel investor is. I deal with them every day. And I've been a part of multiple startups myself. I've also been a part of educational research institutions. You do not have the full picture of all the research that is done.

     

    You are talking about startups. But technology starts well before that. One of the biggest challenges is that fundamental research is done by people who are great scientists but aren't suitable (or oftentimes even interested) for being "entrepreneurs".

     

    The vast majority of science breakthru's -- I'm talking about the transition from "this logically seems like a feasible hypothesis for how a new fundamental breakthrough might work" to the first proof of concept at the lab level -- like, oh, a new chemical process working in tiny amounts in a test tube -- are not funded by angels. The failure rate is way too high for them. And scientists rarely run in the same circles. The funding for this kind of research is primarily federal govt (for medical, a lot of foundation money too). The angels *might* step in when the proof of concept is built.

     

    The second biggest source of fundamental breakthru's *might* be at the corporate level. But not angels.

     

    I made it very clear that I was NOT talking about Solyndra loan as being part of this early-stage stuff.
    12 Oct 2012, 07:47 PM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    Then we are on the same page. I parse the ecosystem into fundamental research which can be very esoteric and can generate very low level patents from applying that research or adding on to it to start a commercial venture. Researchers in large Universities apply for a lot of grants from government institutions like NIH to look at a particular problem which may never have a commercial application. It might be just an improvement to policy. I suspect you know this. I have a lot of exposure to this world through family although I don't live it daily.

     

    I am in the corporate world taking a lot of research and applying it for commercial applications especially in the tech space. Angel investors in this space typically want to hear what the application is and how much R&D will be needed to get something to beta and to the market for early testing or commercial production.

     

    Solyndra in my view was a breakdown. If they still needed fundamental research they should have not started a commercial venture yet. If they were applying research then the business plan was bad and they should have never received funding from anyone. But what the heck it's only tax money.
    12 Oct 2012, 10:26 PM Reply Like
  • Tricky
    , contributor
    Comments (1583) | Send Message
     
    Hey TVP, I suspected we were just hung up on semantics ;-)

     

    Re: Solyndra, I do have a bit of familiarity with that particular situation. First things first -- the loan was totally political and a huge (in many ways) mistake. No question, I will not serve as an apologist for that. End of story.

     

    OTOH, it wasn't that it was a "bad" or "undeveloped" technology. It's actually pretty slick technology and it's not totally crazy to say that their fundamental concept may actually prevail in the future -- I've seen a new startup that's pursuing the same basic concept (the, er, "cylinder"!).

     

    A *bit* of sympathy is in order. Their whole premise was built on using far less silicon, which was massively expensive when they built the technology -- so they *did* have a big cost advantage... at that time vs. the PV players.

     

    Unfortunately for Solyndra, the price of silicon dropped with a speed and slope that is fairly rare in the business world -- it stunned all observers, even those who benefited from it. And there went all of Solyndra's advantage, and then some.

     

    Cheers.
    12 Oct 2012, 10:39 PM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    I still don't understand why if this was such a slam dunk why a PE firm did not step up. Those guys are not stupid.
    13 Oct 2012, 01:23 AM Reply Like
  • Tricky
    , contributor
    Comments (1583) | Send Message
     
    A couple of thoughts -- one general, one specific.

     

    In the ecosystem of investors, PE firms rarely get involved with a new technology or a new company. From what I can tell, they won't even look at a company unless it is fairly well-established (I'll arbitrarily pick 5 years of proven revenues and having made a profit somewhere along the way).

     

    Now as to why a VC didn't get involved -- yep, totally agree. And in my original post, that's where I said if you're at the stage where you need hundreds of millions of dollars and can't get a private-sector investor / lender to pony up... then the government better be extremely selective and leery in reviewing that deal. Specific to Solyndra, IIRC their relative cost advantage was already disappearing by the time the infamous loan was made -- which is why many DoE staff and White House advisors were saying "don't do it".
    13 Oct 2012, 07:13 AM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    I am sorry I meant to say VC firm not PE. I agree with your conclusion. If VC firms are passing on an investment that has tremendous meaning.
    13 Oct 2012, 09:28 AM Reply Like
  • davdws
    , contributor
    Comments (285) | Send Message
     
    if they win, then every unemployed should sue Chinese companies for putting them out of work, and for having their homes foreclosed on...
    12 Oct 2012, 06:47 PM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    Followed by a law suit from Native Americans that their land was stolen and the buffalo killed so they were foreclosed on and put out of work.

     

    Nobody wants true justice. Just a subjective version of it.
    12 Oct 2012, 07:24 PM Reply Like
  • SoldHigh
    , contributor
    Comments (1013) | Send Message
     
    More blame (as usual) from another Obama-embraced entity.
    12 Oct 2012, 07:51 PM Reply Like
  • Tricky
    , contributor
    Comments (1583) | Send Message
     
    Solyndra to rise from the ashes?

     

    http://bit.ly/OHefDZ
    13 Oct 2012, 10:03 AM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    That is nauseating.
    13 Oct 2012, 12:58 PM Reply Like
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