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By Robert Rapier on Oct 9, 2014 with 46 responses

The Bell Tolls for KiOR

A Lesson Learned

If there’s one thing billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has learned over the past decade, it’s that the oil companies aren’t as stupid as he thought. In 2004, Khosla was telling anyone who would listen to him that the only things standing in the way of running the entire country on biofuels were the oil companies, and a lack of funding. He set out to change both of those things, vilifying the oil industry at every turn, and convincing Congress to shell out tax dollars so he could show the dinosaurs in the oil industry how Silicon Valley rolls.

The result has been a debacle, with billions of investor dollars and tax dollars flushed down the toilet. What Khosla didn’t appreciate is that he isn’t smarter than the people in the oil industry. It’s just that the computing and information technology industries were still relatively new, and a great deal of innovation was still taking place in a young field with lots of room for innovation. The oil industry is 150 years old, and while the fracking boom shows that innovation still takes place in the oil industry, it is a very mature industry. Thus change tends to be incremental, not exponential. Almost everything that appears novel to an outsider like Khosla has almost certainly been investigated by multiple companies.

But Khosla convinced a lot of influential people that the energy industry just needed a visionary like himself to shake things up. He gave lots of talks and testified before Congress. He created ludicrous projections for how quickly cellulosic ethanol could scale up. (See my article “Vinod Khosla Debunked.”) Investors (including taxpayers via Congress) couldn’t give him money fast enough, and he proceeded to blow through it as he learned some hard lessons in the energy business, sometimes “inventing” things that had been around for a long time.

Traversing the Learning Curve

His first hugely-hyped company was Range Fuels. They were also prone to making overhyped claims, and in 2010 I was the first person to detail all of their broken promises and wasted taxed dollars in Broken Promises from Range Fuels. Their CEO took some shots at me and said I was clearly misleading and inaccurate – yet a year later they were bankrupt.

Khosa also funded a company called Calera, that he said would be worth more than GE’s power business. Those claims now look silly after Calera’s chemistry claims came under scrutiny. Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at Stanford University, called Calera’s claims “the chemical equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.” See Examining Calera Corporation’s Claims.

Then Khosla took three advanced biofuel companies public in 2011: KiOR (Nasdaq: KIOR), Amyris (Nasdaq: AMRS), and Gevo (Nasdaq: GEVO). I have written several articles arguing that KiOR was overvalued – even as Wall Street analysts had it rated as a “Strong Buy” – and then this year in January I predicted bankruptcy in 2014. Also in January, I appeared on 60 Minutes with Khosla. He was hyping his “no downside” technology in KiOR, and I was countering with “He is out of his area of competency. He is in over his head.”

KiOR Stumbles

Even though I predicted the company would go bankrupt this year, I also said that Khosla would likely give them money to keep them afloat for a while. When KiOR announced in March that they would be out of money by April 1st, I told a reporter that it was still too early for a funeral:

At least one industry expert believes Khosla will release the money to KiOR in time for it to meet its financial obligations in the short term.

“I think…Khosla is going to give them enough money to limp along for a few more months in the hopes that he can convince a much bigger investor to come onboard,” Robert Rapier, a chemical engineer with two decades worth of engineering experience in the energy business, told The Dispatch on Friday.

Rapier expects Khosla to give the company enough money to keep its doors open but not enough to get the plant up and running.

“I don’t think Khosla is going to let them go under just yet,” he said.

He did extend that lifeline of $5 million a month for 5 months as I expected, but as I said it wasn’t enough to restart the plant. That lifeline ran through August. In June the company could not make a $1.87 million payment on a $75 million no-interest loan from the state of Mississippi, and they negotiated a 120-day reprieve (which ends October 31st).

In July KiOR announced that they had hired investment bank Guggenheim Partners to try to sell or restructure the company by October 31st. In September they were delisted from the Nasdaq, chalking up a loss of over 99% from the IPO. The company’s IPO price was $15, and today the shares closed at 9 cents on the pink sheets. Khosla’s two other 2011 IPOs – Gevo and Amyris – are down respectively 98.4% and 80.3% since their IPOs.

An Amateur Learns a Lesson as Taxpayer Expense

What went wrong? It’s not that they had a bad idea, or a technically impossible idea. It’s that they underestimated the economic challenges of doing what they were attempting. (One ex-director has come out now and said he warned the company about problems, but was ignored). Others have attempted similar routes to fuels, but there are numerous challenges in economically converting wood chips into gasoline.

Khosla glossed over the problems and made it sound easy as pie. He is accustomed to seeing technical challenges solved in Silicon Valley. Again, that’s primarily because these challenges are often relatively new. They are not like some of the challenges in the energy business, which have seen decades of work and billions of dollars spent on some of these approaches. The easy challenges were all solved long ago.

So here KiOR is at the end of the line. October 31st looms. Whether they officially declare bankruptcy in the coming month, they are done. There may be some attempt at face-saving by trying to fold the company up into another company, or by taking it private. But the plant hasn’t run all year. Maybe Khosla finally appreciates that the reason ExxonMobil doesn’t make biofuels isn’t because they don’t know how, or because they just love oil. It’s that they have found the economics lacking, and continued to do what worked for them. (As a former ConocoPhillips employee, I can assure that oil companies conduct R&D on every manner of biofuel).

Conclusions

Khosla is fond of saying that he knows he will strike out a lot, but he expects to hit a few home runs. At this point, he would probably be happy to get on base at all. Despite all the money that he has invested in the energy sector, I am unaware of a single success he has had. I know he hasn’t had any in the advanced biofuels arena. (I define success the way Khosla once defined it for me: economically producing biofuels at scale).

But this isn’t surprising. He was not an energy expert. I would have never entrusted him with dollars to invest in a field in which he was an amateur. The thing is, the energy business is much more capital intensive than the businesses he is used to dealing with in Silicon Valley. These “strike outs” can cost hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. You don’t get to strike out too many times before you run out of other people’s money to spend. Now Khosla, still searching for that elusive home run, is going to have an increasingly difficult time getting people to entrust him with their money.

Link to Original Article: The Bell Tolls for KiOR

By Robert Rapier. You can find me on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook.

  1. By voetsak on October 10, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Robert this is brilliant. The oil companies have existed 150 years but the laws of thermo have been around since the big bang. Khosla and his friends tried every trick to break the laws of thermo. He should take a freshman course in thermo 101. His advisers Toxic Tony and Criminal Condi could not come up with the weapons of mass combustion. His big dinner with Andre Oh Bummer also was futile in trying to minimize entropy and maximize free energy when we know the opposite to be inviolable. Dr Chu Chu gave him a bunch and so did Haley Babarian. Maybe this will finally shut him up. You can also add Cello LS 9 and HCL to his portfolio of losers. Finally he learned thermo while a partner at Kleiner Perkins who have boondoggled us with the Bloom Energy BLOOMDOGGLE. That corrupt greenwashed gangrene company made Kior look good.

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    • By mtracy9 on October 10, 2014 at 1:02 am

      A bigger con than this is the coal industry trying to convince the public that “clean coal” is right around the corner. What the coal industry propagandists don’t tell you is that the getting coal carbon emissions down requires lots of energy, and hence the burning of much more coal.

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      • By voetsak on October 10, 2014 at 9:58 am

        what they are trying to do when they separate CO2 from the flue gas is reverse entropy. To do this one has to spend an enormous amount of energy and create entropy elsewhere to do this . Every reaction or activity implies increased entropy. Stephen Hawkin got it right by saying entropy increases in time because we measure time in the direction that entropy increases. These fools think free energy is energy that cost nothing

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        • By Forrest on October 11, 2014 at 7:04 am

          Makes one think on what sustains nature and how higher level organisms mutate?

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          • By voetsak on October 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm

            Nature will continue till the end of the universe. Man and KiOR won’t be around to witness this. Actually KiOR will be long gone before man goes.

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      • By Forrest on October 11, 2014 at 7:09 am

        The emissions of clean coal reduced 50% from the get go as the combined cycle turbine is 2x more efficient, Then the scrubber technology is improved greatly for al modern coal plants. So, overall the building of clean coal plants continue. Very expensive, but a good future. The gasification phase produces large quantities of hydrogen that is getting serious attention from tricycle power production with fuel cell, to plain harvest and store for fuel market.

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        • By Adam Grant on November 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm

          These “very expensive” plants might make sense if they’re the only game in town, but over time they’ll have to compete with solar or wind plus various forms of energy storage. The cost of coal is gradually rising, the costs of solar, wind and energy storage are falling.

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      • By Moiety on October 13, 2014 at 9:21 am

        That is not really the same scenario. We know how to remove CO2 from flue gases and while this is only one element, it has been proven to work. The main problem is the increased energy use and cost associated with it.

        My understanding here of Kior is that the initial reactions were understood. By how to take the product they produced with those to a marketable oil substitute was not well known or understood at all. That is OK but what it means is that you should be spending a lot of time in pilot phase production (say 100 L/day or whatever) understand this.

        You should not be spending millions and millions on a plant that may or may not work or may or may not produce a usable product. Certainly the market cap for Kior was well in excess of where it should have been.

        Clean coal will produce a usable product. It will just be more expensive. Kior did not know if they could even do that.

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  2. By voetsak on October 10, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Robert Kior in Hebrew means sink. This company was named appropriately. In every language Vinod means one who could not comprehend thermodynamics. What will he do with the white powder in the vile that he showed Leslie on 3,600 seconds???? Maybe it can turn yellow pine into soot and CO2 ?? What will the Magnolia State do with the plant they will reposses ?? I plan on publishing the Morax. I have to talk for the trees that were clearcut in in Columbus.

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  3. By CarbonBridge on October 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Such a litany of promotional hype ahead of drastic failures within the biofuels space. Khosla’s activity herein has hurt the entire alternative fuels industry. Obviously, he doesn’t understand the basic chemistry or economics involved herein.

    You failed to mention his recent fencing the public off of a stretch of California beach which he purchased and hid for a few years under LLC designations until it was discovered who actually owned this property. The CA Courts have recently ordered Khosla’s locked gates at Martins Beach to be opened and CA’s Governor has just signed a new bill concerning Eminent Domain access through properties like Khosla’s providing public access to the Pacific Shorelines. Maybe Vinod would have better luck fencing out the public from the ocean beach back in his home country of India.

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  4. By Forrest on October 11, 2014 at 7:36 am

    I started to read a long essay from one of the chemical engineers that worked within Kior. He was making the claim the chemical process was not the problem as the management. Management brought the financial problems down upon themselves. I can easily believe some of that per personal experience of small companies with self confidence and management full of hubris. They hire buddies and will only communicate how to manage success. No hard core contingency plan to survive long term and conserve resources. They tend to jump to production phase way to early as the easy talk for investor resources catches up to them. Many of these companies do have a credible product, but lack a long term stainable financial plan to allow maximum chance of success.

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    • By Robert Rapier on October 14, 2014 at 11:27 pm

      The technology works, it’s just that it doesn’t work economically. The yields are too low. When you convert wood chips all the way to gasoline, most of it ends up as waste.

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      • By Forrest on October 15, 2014 at 7:22 am

        I do remember the alternative fuel proponents cheer leading and dispatching (un) incredible potential or theoretical yields and sketchy calculations with limited actual information. Logging is not an easy automated process as energy required to chip. Their are competing markets for wood, so no waste. Thermal breakdown of wood is energy intensive to begin with. Wood is attractive fuel for bio-mass fuel and pelleting. That sector should be exploited much like Europe to address low cost energy, backup heat, GW emissions, etc. Very wasteful for the Northeast to use diesel fuel for heating. I reviewed an analysis of solar panel install out west vs Maine pellet stove. While taxpayers shell out tens of thousands for solar the lowly pellet stove got nothing and produced multiple the benefit. Why are we pushing solar panels with great expense and avoiding a obvious energy source? Bias and desire vs science. Same with the food vs fuel debate, it’s just bias dissing to prevent distraction from wanted results. Same scenario with nuclear. Wind is hyped up way past ability to quickly and cost effectively preform, as well. Hydro power is poo poo’d as another obvious solution, yet easily dissed per comments like all of the good hydro sites long ago established. My brother was big into hydro as college prof at university. He wanted to purchase old sites and reconstruct. The bureaucracy, regulation, EPA requirement make it just about impossible as the environmentalist long ago sabotaged the sector with horrendous liability and impact studies. You mess with water and all the environmentalist go wacky. Again, same with nuclear. Constitutional Lawyers call the modern mess were in illegal. Only Congress can pass law and the modern development of passing that ability on to other government agencies such as EPA is illegal. It’s called Administrative law. Progressives claim we need Administrative law per modern society requirements, but look how corrupt the process progresses. The country will have to deal with Administrative law making sooner or later.

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        • By Optimist on November 18, 2014 at 1:50 pm

          Spot on re harvesting waste biomass on land.

          The only biomass -> fuel system with any hope is an ocean-based algal system: no need to add water, plenty of area available, dose a bit of iron & watch it go, start with the existing dead-zone in the Gulf, etc. And there you’d need to figure out a low energy way of harvesting.

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          • By Forrest on November 18, 2014 at 4:20 pm

            There was research and trial on floating mats of cattail biomass. The cattail plant is phenomenal per the ability to thrive upon hazardous and acidic waste water. International projects in Russia and island states utilize the plant for hazardous waste cleanup and sanitary sewage treatment. It is very effective, but per our EPA concern, it is to hard to measure and manage. Meaning EPA wants industrial processes that they can verify, test, and fine. Nature is to soft for their hard science. This is unfortunate as the natural processes are incredibly cost effective and long lasting. One tourist Island state had a pond system to regenerate waste and runoff water. It was tested to potable water standards after flowing through the pond system. I think this was a 60 minutes story. BTW the cattail is a starch plant and has potential to surpass corn for gallons ethanol per acre. The plant seeds itself to the point of noxious invasive classification. I would venture to guess that if the regulators would encourage the private sector with omission of liability and regs, that a small company could clean up Mississippi dead zone to purity of trout fishery and in so doing, have a couple billion gallons of ethanol feedstock for profit. Every municipality should be required to plant several hundred acres of wet land cattail per storm sewage treatment and final polish of their industrial waste water treatment before draining to waterways. Environmentalist claim farmers fertilizer the culprit to pollution, but municipalities the largest polluter.

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            • By Optimist on November 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm

              Sorry Forest, but now you’re talking from both sides of your mouth: those “industrial” wastewater treatment plants that you are so cynical about can be designed to remove nutrients very effectively as many, especially those discharging to Chesapeake Bay, for example, already are. In the case of the Chesapeake catchment, agriculture is really the main remaining (and unchallenged) discharger of nutrients.

              Natural systems are attractive due to their low energy and control requirements, but the downside is that without control, there is no way to consistently produce quality effluent, unless you make the system really huge (read: expensive). May work for a small town, but not for cities.

              The larger point, though, is even if every single wastewater treatment plant was used exclusively for growing reeds (assuming you could find the land), there would hardly be enough fuel to make a dent. You need really large areas, hence the open ocean is the only serious option.

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            • By Forrest on November 19, 2014 at 8:10 am

              Municipal waste water is currently rated largest polluter of national waterway, for the raw release of storm water. Natural systems are making their way into sewage treatment per regulations. The bio-digester and recent process of ethanol production pretreatment. Municipalities that are located close to water ways have adapted codes for run off containment whereupon land owners must design landscape to block storm water runoff. Building codes for industrial or commercial have adapted construction of ponds for runoff water treatment. Current hazardous waste sites treatment is financially unsustainable per EPA regs and go mostly untreated. Most sites just sit with chain link fence and warning sign only collecting resources to study the problem. Russia scientist are taking opposite strategy, maximizing low cost natural process. Michigan State had done some research on this. They discovered microbial activity within soil that can be enhanced to attack and breakdown almost all man made chemicals. Also, the plant kingdom had amazing ability to thrive and selectively process waste. It’s outdated to think all liquid waste needs to flow downhill to stream side treatment plants as they are professionals with test equipment. They are usually union workforce hence the need to continue to rely on them per political need. Same forces sabotage our low cost solutions for hazardous waste, oil spills, sanitary landfills, and reliance of government workforce.

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            • By Optimist on November 19, 2014 at 12:57 pm

              Careful what you say about municipal wastewater: it is probably the partial source of your potable water. Portion set to increase over time.

              You can call wastewater treatment plant operators lazy union no-goods if you want, but the fact remains: if you want a process you can control, you need somebody at the switch.

              You can call the EPA a bunch of Big Government bullies, but somehow, without their active “encouragement” it is surprising how few Big Polluters bother to clean up after themselves. Despite what Ayn Rand would have you believe about their divine graces the Rich and Noble.

              Natural systems are great, when they work, as I said. Multiple scientists and engineers are researching these systems. But there is a reason for their limited acceptance, and, no, it is not a conspiracy.

              Between you and me, I rather have the lazy union thug keeping the effluent clean than have a natural system and hope for the best. You obviously feel different.

              Are you aware that most of those industrial wastewater treatment plants operated by thugs use microbes to clean up the water? You still need process control to get the effluent consistently clean, especially if you are interested in controlling the cost of doing so, which seems to be a priority for you.

              Wait, are you saying that benefit of scale is a dated idea? That would be big news to Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Bankster and your personal favorite, Big Ag.

              And I most certainly did not expect you to suggest that we follow the lead of the Russians! Did you really mean to say that? Anything else we should adapt from Mother Russia?

              This may be stretch, but you need to realize that not everything that is wrong in the world can be blamed on Big Oil and the Liberal Media…

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  5. By CharliePeters on October 11, 2014 at 9:02 am

    BP fuel ethanpl affect the beef?

    Dr. Stan’s California water supply opinion

    
http://mediaarchives.gsradio.net/radioliberty/121213d.mp3

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  6. By takchess on October 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

    It’s been a tough road for biofuels including this group here in Nh which he has a stake. http://www.mascoma.com/technology/overview/

    It’s interesting that he may have a hit in other parts of his renewable Cleantech long term positions in areas also outside his expertise as he writes about here.

    techcrunch.com/2014/10/08/could-a-nobel-prize-winning-innovation-have-almost-been-overlooked-by-silicon-valley/

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  7. By Russ Finley on October 11, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    That “no downsides” quote on 60 minutes elicited an involuntary eye rolling response …; )

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  8. By Pat Sullivan - InfiniteEnergy on October 12, 2014 at 12:09 am

    who wants this to fail? who has the most to lose? build the need first = eg an i.C.E. that needs/marries well with bio fuels. EVs will drown this segment anyway.

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  9. By Forrest on October 13, 2014 at 8:13 am

    My evaluation of tax revenue waste per alternative fuel investments. It’s small potatoes compared to run of the mill fraud, corruption, and waste. Federal government is extremely wasteful, inefficient, corrupt, but necessary. Overall, I think a good endeavor per the need of alternative energy. It is very important to sustain the effort over multiple administrations as well as gain expert evaluations. Better to maximize sustainability then utilize the now popular shot gun blast attempt to hit a home run. Japanese companies are good at continuous development of promising technology at a low cost burden. It’s good to drag some of it into commercial production, even if uncompetitive, for the sustained effort of invention, education, and industrial engineering improvements. These tip of the spear new technology endeavors should prove, beforehand, as a condition to gain public funding that they have minimum burn rate of resources. Nowadays, it’s popular to hire overpaid connected cronies to gain favor and influence. An independent accounting and engineering firm should rate the project first.

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  10. By Optimist on October 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Hey faceless braindead roadkill: Take the time to read Rapier’s informed discussions on the topic in hand before you comment on them!

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    • By centerroad on November 15, 2014 at 5:08 am

      Hey ego driven dumb f@@k, I did, that’s why I made an informed comment. Your next fact filled post will be your first.

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    • By centerroad on February 15, 2015 at 4:32 am

      Boot licking egomaniacs is so unbecoming.

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      • By Optimist on February 16, 2015 at 7:44 pm

        Beats being a brain-dead troll any day…

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      • By Robert Rapier on February 16, 2015 at 8:10 pm

        “Boot licking egomaniacs is so unbecoming.”

        I know, right? I don’t understand what you guys see in Khosla to be honest.

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        • By centerroad on February 16, 2015 at 8:42 pm

          The fact he’s highly successful and you’re an internet wannabee may have something to do with it.

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  11. By gr8day on October 16, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    It is very easy to look at emerging technologies and say they are not viable. It takes very little intelligence or courage to do this. Instead, we should applaud the scientific pioneers who press on in the face of the negativity and continue to innovate. Indeed, they are the heros.
    Mr. Rapier, you have brought yourself shame, trying to attack the very science you should be fighting to advance.

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    • By Robert Rapier on October 16, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Dude, what do you think I do for a living? Look at my patent portfolio. These are exactly the sorts of things I do. I work in this field. Of course had you done due diligence –something we have already established you DO NOT DO — you would have known this and could save yourself some embarrassment. Then again, anonymous posters are held to pretty low standards, right? You have no accountability for running off at the mouth when you don’t know what you are talking about.

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      • By gr8day on October 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm

        I’m a butcher, a baker, a candle stick maker. What does it matter, my profession ? Will you attempt to belittle my intellect as well? Maybe I’m a school teacher or a doctor. Maybe I’m a pimp or a war veteran.
        You are so stuck on being an “expert” in your field that you think only people with a patent portfolio larger than you should be granted a seat at the table for a discussion. How arrogant.
        Again, the same reason you don’t want Mr. Khosla to have success. You think… if I could not do it, then he cannot do it. You have the misguided belief that his success is your failure. And your ego can’t take that.
        I am not debating the science with you. As you, yes you, have made this about way more than the science. You started with the personal attacks and name calling of Mr. Khosla. You started posting on message boards claiming your scientific opinions were facts.
        And, you invited me to check out your blogs.
        Please, stop blaming others. You still have an opportunity to admit your mistakes and work to improve. I hope you do.

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        • By Robert Rapier on October 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm

          “Will you attempt to belittle my intellect as well? ”

          Honestly for anyone reading these exchanges, you are doing a good enough job of that yourself.

          “Again, the same reason you don’t want Mr. Khosla to have success.”

          Yet you will never find a case where I criticized Elon Musk when he had the audacity to think he could achieve great things outside his field. There’s a reason for that.

          “You started with the personal attacks and name calling of Mr. Khosla.”

          Where? Examples please.

          “You still have an opportunity to admit your mistakes and work to improve.”

          What mistakes would those be?

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          • By CarbonBridge on October 16, 2014 at 5:27 pm

            10/14/14 Article and short vid…

            During an interview with “60 Minutes,” Khosla dismissed concern over all the money taxpayers have lost in the green-energy sector the last six years by offering this bizarre analogy: “We’ve been looking for a cure for cancer for a long time. How much money has the U.S. government spent? Billions and billions of dollars. Should we stop looking for a cure for cancer because we haven’t found a cure?”

            Vinod Khosla found success as a co-founder of Sun Microsystems in 1982. Today, his clean technology investments are largely dependent on taxpayer subsidies. However, many of those green energy companies have either gone bankrupt or have come dangerously close to bankruptcy. Range Fuels, as Mattera points out in CRAPITALISM, was a Khosla-backed company that claimed it would convert wood chips to ethanol fuel. Instead, it went belly up and costed taxpayers an estimated $64 million.

            “You’d think that green energy companies would exist to produce energy,” writes Mattera. “Not act subsidies for the rich and tax obligations for the rest of us.”

            Mattera included a chapter on Khosla in CRAPITALISM, he has explained, because Vinod’s “clean-tech’ dreams won’t work unless they’re funded by taxpayers. “That’s what’s so messed up about Crapitalism: It snuffs out the magic of true, rock-ribbed American competition.”

            “Americans are tired of waving good-bye to the hundreds of millions we’ve sent to green energy fantasy camp so that people like Vinod Khosla can minimize their own risk.”

            Read more at
            http://dailysurge.com/2014/10/venture-crapitalist-vinod-khosla-gets-called-equating-green-energy-failures-cancer-research/

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    • By Robert Rapier on October 16, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      For anyone wondering where this seemingly random attack came from, I encountered this person on the Yahoo message board for KiOR. He has been hyping KiOR for a month now, going on and on about how the share price was going to explode and insulting people who disagree with him. I tried to explain some of the technology and why he had some misconceptions, and these are the sorts of responses I have consistently gotten.

      Instead of engaging, he has simply been insulting. Of course the share price is down nearly 60% since he started hyping it, but he and another poster who hyped it all the way down insist they haven’t lost much, if any money. I don’t gloat about losses — and frankly there have been a lot of upward spikes on the way down — but I can only guess that his losses are behind the anger.

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  12. By gr8day on October 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Furthemore, you have a bunch of self proclaimed experts (including Mr. Rapier) with their panties in a bunch about someone outside “their” profession daring to make advancements in biofuel. Saying, “wait, we don’t try to start computer companies… so you shouldn’t work in biofuel.” It’s the equivalent of “you can’t play with my ball”. Stop with the childish behavior. Scientists should be supporting new technology. Scientists should know that only by pushing limits do we reach new heights. Don’t be upset that Mr. Khosla is pushing for advancements in your industry. Don’t stomp your feet like children. Grow up.

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    • By Robert Rapier on October 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      “Furthemore, you have a bunch of self proclaimed experts (including Mr. Rapier) with their panties in a bunch about someone outside “their” profession daring to make advancements in biofuel.”

      Two things you need to understand. The first is that anytime you hear me referred to as an expert, it’s someone else doing it. I always felt like it’s a little boastful to say “I am an expert.” Second, the issue with Khosla has always been that he made unrealistic promises and then took tax dollars on that basis. If he wants to try something new and he fails, I don’t care. If he takes my tax dollars, I do care. Not hard to understand. Of course, given our previous exchanges, I am sure you don’t understand.

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  13. By Optimist on November 18, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    What exactly has Mr. Kosla so far gotten done? Other that a lot of out tax $$ into his back pocket?

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  14. By Robert Rapier on February 16, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    “Why do you think Soros has taken a stake in Kior, I’ll tell you why, because they have a technology that is worth it, they simply screwed up the process.”

    Now, I know you think it’s a long shot, but just consider for a moment that it’s possible — even if it’s a teeny tiny possibility — that I know a little more about this than you give me credit for. In fact, at this point I am certain I know A LOT more about it than you give me credit for. Boot licking of Soros aside, he does make mistakes. Not everything he touches turns to gold. He relies on advisers, and they can be mislead. Lots of people made a mistake on this one. No huge shame in that, but if you know the field you knew some of their claims didn’t add up.

    But what do I know? Maybe I just got lucky in predicting their bankruptcy.

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    • By centerroad on February 16, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      There you go again, claiming how much you know, not once, not twice, three times in a little over a paragraph.

      I rest my case internet superstar.

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      • By Robert Rapier on February 16, 2015 at 8:50 pm

        What case buddy? You have never made any sort of case that I “don’t” know what I am talking about, anonymous Internet troll.

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      • By Robert Rapier on February 16, 2015 at 9:00 pm

        I guess next time I have a toothache I should schedule an appointment with Soros. Him being a big success, surely he knows how to fix a toothache. I mean, it’s not like that’s a specialized area that requires any sort of expertise.

        In any case, so sorry for your losses. I did try to warn people. I hope you weren’t one of those people who rode it all the way to zero in the naive belief that they were going to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

        You know who lost money on KiOR? 3 billionaires, Khosla, Soros, and Gates. You know who didn’t? Me, and anyone who listened to my advice on KiOR.

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  15. By Robert Rapier on October 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    “You attempt to belittle his intellect. Really?”

    I can see that you have zero knowledge of history here. It’s not about his intellect. He is obviously a very smart guy. But as I asked on 60 Minutes, “would you let him operate on your heart?” This is all about someone who knows nothing about a field overpromising, taking tax dollars, failing to deliver, and then damaging the entire field.

    “You say Khosla thought the oil companies were “stupid”. Those are your words, not his.”

    If you knew any history here, you would know that is pretty close to what he said. But you don’t know the history at all.

    “You are terrified that Khosla will be successful and you will be proven wrong.”

    Yes, that’s it. I am terrified that he will suddenly defy the laws of science and restore billions of dollars of evaporated equity in the process. I just hope you aren’t holding your breath.

    “However, as wev’e discussed in other posts, you always leave yourself a trap door.”

    No, as you claim, and as I have consistently shown was not true. My prediction of bankruptcy is a straight out prediction. That’s what I predict will happen. If I am wrong, you can say I am wrong. If I am right, I suspect anonymous poster “gr8day” will assume I got lucky and we won’t hear from him again. Just remember, the share price is down 99% since I made that prediction, and this isn’t the first bankruptcy of his that I have predicted. Am I just lucky? Or maybe something you have never considered — maybe I understand this space?

    “There are those that “do” and those that talk about it.”

    In this case “do” is a series of failed companies built on empty promises, and billions of dollars in lost equity and tax dollars. Yes, I aspire to “do” as much.”

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  16. By Robert Rapier on October 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    “It’s clear from what you say in interviews, posts, etc… that it bothers you that Khosla even had the audacity to think that he could make something work in the area of biofuel.”

    See if you can uncover any criticism from me of Elon Musk. Then ask yourself what’s different about the two. You will see some similarities and some differences. You should see then that it has nothing to do with audacity about what someone can achieve in my field.

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  17. By gr8day on October 16, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Learn something from every exchange. May you have peace and happiness.

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  18. By Jonathan Koomey on October 17, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Having witnessed Mr. Khosla in action at a dinner event attended by many dozens of high level funders for Stanford University years ago, nothing that Rob stated above is surprising to me (it all rings quite true, actually). There are many people who achieve great success in one field and assume that they can replicate that success in an entirely different field with little effort. That is usually not the case (Elon Musk is the exception).

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