Kleiner Perkins

House Committee Grills DOE Loan Program Director Over Secret Emails

Jonathan SilverA hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week investigated the Obama administration’s practice of concealing email communications, with former top officials getting grilled about their use of private Internet accounts to conduct government business.

Two of the most egregious offenders were subject to withering scrutiny, although it didn’t last long enough to get very deep. Lisa Jackson, the former EPA Administrator whose FOIA-evadable email address was under the alias “Richard Windsor” – named in part for her dog – was questioned about a message sent to Siemens vice president Alison Taylor in which she asked her to “use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly….”

Fisker's Venture Capital Firm Still Hasn't Learned Cronyism Doesn't Pay

John Doerr photoThe sniping and backbiting behind the financial scenes are escalating as those involved with Fisker Automotive and other green tech flops seek to direct blame for their investment failures. U.S. taxpayers, as usual, have suffered bystander casualties.

The latest controversy surrounds Silicon Valley investment firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, which has suffered a series of setbacks over its strategy to place sizable wagers on so-called “clean energy” companies. Their tech bettors hit on several huge successes during the 1990s dot-com boom, which history shows was a huge bubble with a nasty burst. The same thing happened with the government-fueled housing expansion and now the renewable energy sector is ballooning for the same reason.

Details Revealed of Fisker's Waste and Mismanagement

Fisker logoAs NLPC has covered Fisker Automotive’s catastrophic flop over the last few years since it was granted a $529-million taxpayer-guaranteed loan from the Department of Energy, one big question that repeatedly came up was: How could a company that produced only one electric car model burn through $1.4 billion in investment so quickly?

Reuters uncovered a number of reasons in a report published earlier this week. Citing documents and some sources, mostly anonymous, the news syndicate painted a disturbing picture of mismanagement, incompetence, disinformation, and squander. While businesses stumble and go out of business every day, Fisker’s case illustrates why government bureaucrats are only accidental successes as investors of public money at best, but often are horrific decision makers at worst.

Administration Denies Reality at Fisker Congressional Hearing

Fisker hearingAs the Department of Energy seized the last of Fisker Automotive’s reserves in lieu of an unknown amount that it was due to repay this week, what’s left of the lame electric automaker clings to the slim hope it can survive.

While CEO Tony Posawatz and his team may need an intervention, a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday revealed that DOE and committee Democrats (as well as those in the Obama administration) are hopelessly stuck in an alternate universe, where losing millions of taxpayer dollars is considered a good record. Republicans had called officials from the company – including founder Henrik Fisker, as well as administrators of DOE’s loan program – to explain the logic that went into granting $529 million to a fledgling, unproven car company that targets an ultra-rich clientele.

Lawsuit and a Congressional Hearing as Fisker Bankruptcy Nears

Fisker logoAs green energy stimulus recipients raked in billions of dollars the last few years, with President Obama declaring what a great “investment” they were for taxpayers, friends of mine would jokingly ask, “Where’s my dividend?” “Where are my stock certificates?” “Where’s my free electric car?!” 

In the case of our $193-million stake in Fisker Automotive, thanks to a Department of Energy loan guarantee, it looks like American shareholders will end up with the whole company itself.

Al Gore, DiCaprio AWOL as Fisker Circles the Drain

Al Gore photo

UPDATE 11:30 a.m. Friday: Reuters reports that Fisker has hired a bankruptcy attorney.

Fisker Automotive, which has received $193 million of a $529 million Department of Energy stimulus loan guarantee and apparently still wants the rest of it, stopped making its sole electric car – the $102,000-plus Karma – last July. But only now has it decided to furlough workers for a week.

“In parallel with the process of identifying a strategic partner, Fisker is, of course, continuing to manage its day-to- day operations and has recently instituted temporary furloughs for its U.S. workforce covering the final week of March,” the company said.

Apple's 100-Percent Renewable Claim Fails the Sunlight Test

green Apple logoApple, Inc. has grown into a widely admired and one of the most valuable companies in the world, producing terrific products that generate long waiting lines every time a new innovation is announced. You would think executive leadership would not feel the need to bow to environmental pressure groups to appear it is eco-friendly.

But apparently acceptance by the likes of Greenpeace, and a warm reception at Silicon Valley liberals’ cocktail parties, still ranks high in importance in the corner offices in Cupertino, Calif. – even though their boastful claims aren’t true.

Henrik Fisker Quits as Chairman of His Own Company

Fisker logoIn the end, even Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Bieber, Jay Leno, former Chrysler and General Motors execs, billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalists, generous California government incentive givers, Delaware subsidizers, and President Obama’s Department of Energy investment arm couldn’t overcome the dud that was the $102,000-plus Fisker Karma.

And now as the company desperately seeks for cash and/or a rescuer – probably in China – a disagreement arose between Fisker’s founder and its top management. So the man for whom the company was named, Henrik Fisker, quit. The Los Angeles Times and dozens of other outlets reported yesterday that Mr. Fisker left over disputes about “direction” for the company, citing “several major disagreements.”

Taxpayer-Supported Fisker Looking to China, Like A123

Fisker logoStimulus déjà vu-lishness lurks: Another “green” tech company that received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is financially troubled, seeks a buyer (or their preferred term – a “partner”), and China is ready to swoop in and buy up the remains on the cheap. And the same two Republican senators who slammed the last deal that went down like this are sickened again.

The first time this happened it was electric car battery maker A123 Systems that set up a deal to get $249 million (plus other multimillion dollar grants) from U.S. taxpayers, who then got left holding the bag when executives ran the company into bankruptcy, made off with some sweet bonuses, and left the techno-carcass for China’s Wanxiang Group to buy and learn about American battery innovation from.

Fisker Failures May Prevent Delaware From Getting Its Money Back

Fisker logoAmidst its ongoing financial problems and search for a “strategic alliance” that it says is not an attempt to sell the company, Fisker Automotive continues to make its current business partners extremely nervous.

In particular are those “investors” that represent the taxpayers of Delaware, who foolishly committed $21 million in public money to the California-based company, in exchange for a promise to take over a former General Motors manufacturing plant to build its next electric car, the Atlantic. But rather than generate thousands of “green jobs,” instead the factory sits dormant while Gov. Jack Markell and the state’s economic development officials stew. And now the state has learned that if Fisker goes belly-up or fails to operate in Delaware, the repayment of the funds it has outlaid is subordinate to the rights of other lenders to get their money back, including the U.S. government.

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