My Climate Journey

Ep 30: Andrew Beebe, Managing Director at Obvious Ventures

Episode Summary

Today’s guest is Andrew Beebe, Managing Director at Obvious Ventures. For over a decade, Andrew has focused on clean technology and clean energy solutions, both as an entrepreneur, and now as a venture capitalist. If you want to learn more about world positive investing, world positive companies, and doing well by doing good, this one is for you. Enjoy the show!

Episode Notes

Today’s guest is Andrew Beebe, Managing Director at Obvious Ventures.

Andrew brings to Obvious Ventures a lifelong passion for building companies around sustainable systems and people power.

For over a decade, Andrew has focused on clean technology and clean energy solutions. He started down the clean tech path with Energy Innovations in 2003, which he grew from a business plan to a major solar developer serving customers like Google, Disney, Sony Pictures, and British Telecom.

After selling the company to Suntech in 2008, Andrew served as Chief Commercial Officer at Suntech as well as Vice President of Global Product Strategy. During his tenure, Suntech became the largest solar company in the world. After leaving Suntech, Andrew spent two years as Vice President of Distributed Generation for Nextera Energy, the largest clean energy developer in the US.

Before his clean tech career, Andrew spent a decade building companies in the early days of “Web 1.0.” In 1998 Andrew co-founded, an e-commerce platform designed to serve the needs of small businesses entering the Internet age. He has been supporting the enterprising ideas of people power ever since.

A graduate from Dartmouth College, Andrew lives in Burlingame, CA with his wife and three children. When he's not helping to build early stage companies, Andrew builds wooden boats and furniture.

Andrew was born in New York City and spent his formative years on an avocado ranch in Ojai, California.

In this episode we discuss:

Links to the topics discussed in this episode:

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Enjoy the show!

Episode Transcription

Jason Jacobs:                Hello everyone. This is Jason Jacobs and welcome to My Climate Journey. This show follows my journey to interview a wide range of guests to better understand and make sense of the formidable problem of climate change and try to figure out how people like you and I can help.

Jason Jacobs:                Hey, everyone. Jason here. Today's guest is Andrew Beebe, the Managing Director at Obvious Ventures. Obvious Ventures was founded on a simple belief that the most valuable companies of our time will be the ones solving humanity's biggest problems. Their purpose is to support the World Positive entrepreneurs building these disruptive solutions. Together they aim to re-imagine huge sectors of the global economy in ways that move the planet forward. Now, those words sound great, but I had a lot of questions coming into this interview and Andrew did not disappoint.

Jason Jacobs:                We talked about a number of things, including how the team at Obvious Ventures defines World Positive and how they screen for it. We talked about the types of sectors that are interesting to Andrew and the team as well as specific companies they've worked with that they're particularly excited about. But more importantly, we talked about climate change. We talked about the role of innovation and we also talked about what other types of things should play a big role in the climate fight. I found Andrew to be a thoughtful, deeply knowledgeable and deeply experienced guest and I hope you do as well. Andrew Beebe, welcome to the show.

Andrew Beebe:             Thanks for having me.

Jason Jacobs:                Thanks a lot for coming. I'm excited to catch up. So, I met you one time in San Francisco at your office a few months ago when I was just heading down this path and now I'm a few months in, so I guess I'm an expert, now that I'm a few months further along.

Andrew Beebe:             We're on your climate journey together.

Jason Jacobs:                I am excited for this discussion because one of the things I found when I started down this path is that after spending my whole career in startups backed by venture capital, that there wasn't a whole lot of overlap between the people that were relevant to my new world and the people that are relevant to the world I'm coming from. And I feel like in some ways you're kind of a bridge.

Andrew Beebe:             Yeah, I feel that way myself. I had two very distinct careers, both times as an entrepreneur, but first in the very early days of the commercialization of the internet and then second in the very early days of this energy transformation, this journey that we're all on.

Jason Jacobs:                Yeah. And the other thing I appreciated when we met is that you've got some battle-hardened viewpoints that have been formed over many years of in-the-trenches experience. And therefore for someone like me just starting out and getting a lot of conflicting information flying all over the place, I think talking to people like you is really valuable.

Andrew Beebe:             Great.

Jason Jacobs:                So for starters, I mean, I know, but for listeners' benefit, what is Obvious Ventures?

Andrew Beebe:             So Obvious Ventures was founded five years ago with a pretty simple, but we think important viewpoint, which is that purpose driven entrepreneurs trying to tackle the world's systemic challenges are going to outperform their peers. And that I think was not obvious to a lot of people when we started. But I think as we start to see some of these World Positive businesses really mature and manifest their objectives, it's becoming more clear that this in fact could be true.

Andrew Beebe:             So for example, five years ago we invested in a small plant-based protein company called Beyond Meat that I think a lot of people were very skeptical of. And it went through a long journey to get where it is today, but obviously recently went public and has a tremendous following, very, very popular in the marketplace of meat eaters trying to transition themselves to a healthier diet. And I would count myself in that group. I love a good meat burger. And last night for dinner I had some Beyond Burgers and Beyond Sausages. So that's the kind of stuff we invest in and that's what the foundation of the firm was really all about. Let's go find purpose driven entrepreneurs tackling massive challenges.

Jason Jacobs:                And when I hear purpose-driven, I think there is structurally, if you look at your firm relative to a typical venture capital firm, what are the areas of commonality and then what are some of the differences with Obvious?

Andrew Beebe:             Yeah, that is a great question. I think when we think of this, people talk a lot about profit and purpose. I think for a long time it was profit versus purpose in a lot of the debates. Then it became trying to find profit and purpose. And I think we're now moving toward a world where it is profit because of purpose. And I'll give you some concrete examples. We invest in companies where ideally the more they sell of whatever they make or whatever they do, the better the world or society or our environment becomes. So therefore, by definition, their economic success is the success of their purpose.

Andrew Beebe:             So Proterra is an electric bus company. It's pretty clear, every time you sell more electric buses, the world is a better place. Diamond Foundry sells aboveground diamonds, which are grown in labs. They're real diamonds. They sell them to people getting married every day. And yet they're not blood diamonds. There's no conflict involved in their extraction and there is no sort of mystery in their sourcing. These are typical profit because of purpose types of businesses as is Good Eggs and as is Beyond Meat. And the list goes on. We have 60 companies in the portfolio that really fit that kind of bill.

Andrew Beebe:             That's probably what sets us apart. We have co-investors in all those companies, and many of them are some of the best known venture capitalists on the planet. So other venture firms are doing that too. I think they love, many of them love that idea. We just tend to do it as our leading edge. We do it really in every company that we invest in and they maybe do that and then do other methods of investing. So that sets us apart a little bit. We hope more and more it makes us look like everybody else. We'd love it if other venture firms took that same model. So steal that model. But where we're similar is we're a venture capital firm. We have very typical economics and limited partners and institutions that we like, that we work very hard to go make money for. And that is just like every other traditional venture firm out there.

Jason Jacobs:                So when I look at, concessionary is the wrong word, and I know everybody hates the word concessionary, so I know just even mentioning it will elicit an allergic reaction and so I'm not going to mention it. But even though I just sort of did-

Andrew Beebe:             I do have hives breaking out on my arm right now.

Jason Jacobs:                Maybe there's just a quick checklist I love to run through to get a sense of the mechanics of the funds. So how do you think about science risk?

Andrew Beebe:             The joke around here is that my degree was political science, so that's about as far as we get. That's not really true. We have some actual technical people around the table, certainly in machine learning, and AI, in chemical processes. However, we have found that we don't take heavy, deep tech risk that enters into the world of the chemical or the physical. We may, when it comes to certain aspects of machine learning, machine vision, but less so when it comes to hard techs physically. That's not always true. For example, Lilium is a eVTOL company that is building all electric air taxis, and this is an oft ridiculed zone of flying cars. And yet we are, I believe this company is going to be bigger than Uber. It's an extraordinary technological feat that they've already accomplished and now they're working on commercialization. Those are the types of things where we may take more technical risk, but when it comes to exotic [inaudible 00:07:58] or other energy storage technologies, we will tend to lean away from deep tech risk.

Jason Jacobs:                What about time horizons?

Andrew Beebe:             Very traditional in terms of venture. Our venture fund is a seven-year investing life and a 10-year fund life, so we are not particularly focused on long-term returns differently than other venture firms. Now, seven to 10 years is still long term, and what I would say is that we are very focused on backing entrepreneurs who want to build companies which are built to last. Typically, when you focus a lot on culture, when you focus a lot on safety and integrity and values and transparency, we believe the data show that you end up with greater returns because you're building these long-term businesses. So we look for that. That's important signal. But we don't have a different time horizon in terms of investability.

Jason Jacobs:                And then upside is the last one. But I think you've more or less already answered that, that you don't compromise on upside or on time horizons and you stay away from science risk by and large with some exceptions. But for the most part.

Andrew Beebe:             I'd take it a step further and just say, I don't know what the opposite of compromise is, but we're looking for people who are tackling really big problems. So I think there are other firms who, in the baseball metaphor, we might say are looking for singles and doubles and play Moneyball and do very, very well. I think that can be a very effective portfolio construction. We tend to look for people who are going after massive transformations of older industries. So whether that's automotive or aerospace or food systems or the diamond industry or various aspects of healthcare, we're looking for people who really want to take on the big problems, not just the small components within those. We've made exceptions to that too. But that's what gets us most excited.

Jason Jacobs:                And when you evaluate these opportunities, I get how you measure the more traditional VC part of market size and competitive landscape and timing and what's changing that makes now the right time and does the team have the right experience to do this and founder market fit and stuff like that. But what about some of the other stuff you're talking about in terms of kind of the higher calling? How do you screen for that?

Andrew Beebe:             Yeah, this is a great question and it is an oft debated one in the world of impact investing and we don't really think of ourselves as an impact fund. And part of that is that baggage around concessionary, we sort of say call us whatever you want, just call us for great deals.

Jason Jacobs:                I like that. Call us whatever you want, but just call us. I could picture that at like 1:00 AM on an infomercial on TV.

Andrew Beebe:             Hopefully it doesn't come to that.

Jason Jacobs:                Just joking.

Andrew Beebe:             But what we look for is going back to those values driven entrepreneurs, who when we sit down, I mean we spend a lot of time during the pitches talking to them about their values and where they came from and what businesses they built in the past and how they want to reflect their core values into what they're creating. And those answers, we listen hard in those sessions. I mean those are important to us to understand what is the culture of the company or that origin story of the business and even the people themselves. And we tend to find that people who have truly authentic reasons for being professionally in what they're doing, you'll see an alignment or not in what their product and service is. And therefore we get back to that whole thing. If we just ask ourselves, if this business is successful as a business, is it world positive and is it substantially transformatively world positive?

Andrew Beebe:             And if it is, then we move on to, great, is this going to be a great business? Let's go figure that out. So there's a very, very important screen early on that is, we would probably call it our world positive lens or world positive screen. And once they're through that, then our sort of, our probing and our efforts at least in the decision making process look a lot like traditional venture. If somebody comes in and says, you know, "We're building a more efficient M16 or something or a drone strike tool that can be used for more precise military strikes." Some people might call those things world positive for safety reasons or whatever. But that for us usually means, "Okay, it's not going to sit in the lens that we want to work on," or we wouldn't do a jewel or something like that because of we think the negative implications of the wild success of that.

Jason Jacobs:                So I get, I mean there are some that are obviously world positive and there are some others that obviously aren't, like the couple examples that you just mentioned, but what about the tweeners? Is there any example you can think of, and feel free to remove any defining characteristics or names, but of something in a gray area that maybe generated the most debate in the partnership about whether it passed that world positive filter?

Andrew Beebe:             I didn't realize the questions were going to be so challenging.

Jason Jacobs:                I'm trying.

Andrew Beebe:             Of course. We spend a substantial amount of time talking about those tweeners and debating them. Let me see if I can sort of delabel an example, but we looked at a company that is in the supply chain logistics realm and was going to basically help people get goods faster. A typical example that we didn't do would be like a Starsky Robotics or something, a trucking company that's going autonomous, but this one was more in the being able to look really deep-

Jason Jacobs:                Wait, so trucking company going autonomous is a [inaudible 00:00:13:32]?

Andrew Beebe:             No. It's one that you would have a real conversation about. Is it all about putting truckers out of work? Or is it about safety? Or is it about superhumaning individuals through the use of robotics and AI? We're in a couple of robotics companies. We're in a construction robotics company called Canvas and I can't talk that much about what they're doing, but they are looking at basically helping individual construction workers become much more productive and efficient and also a lot safer. So robotics and AI, we like to apply into realms we call dirty, dull and dangerous, you know, places where humans have been doing a job for a long time, but it's also been killing them in mass, or has gotten into a repetitive world that makes the jobs so low value-add for a human that they're really not getting paid what they could in other role.

Andrew Beebe:             And I think there are a lot of cases where you can justify robotics and AI investment [inaudible 00:14:30] because of that. In supply chain logistics and transparency, things where we can get greater clarity on ingredients tax or sources or types of material that might be toxic or dangerous is really, really valuable.

Andrew Beebe:             We looked at a food transparency company that could trace fish all the way back to the exact boat that it was caught on and this is not some bespoke like farmers' market kind of offering. This is a very, very scalable, could work within Walmart supply chain kind of company. That's a supply chain software company. Many people wouldn't think of that as world positive. We think giving transparency into where everything that you put into your body or into your homes or on your walls like paint and stuff comes from is going to be extremely world positive.

Jason Jacobs:                And as I'm listening to this, first of all, that's helpful to listen to you kind of sort through that. I guess one question that comes to mind is world positive means something different to every person. So do you define world positive as a firm or is each partner given the latitude to define world positive for themselves?

Andrew Beebe:             Well, I mean, yes, we define it as a firm and the four of us have the same view. We have a lot of alignment within the firm in terms of what we're all trying to do and it's the same thing.

Jason Jacobs:                So all four of you need to be on board for an investment that you make? Or if one of you felt really strongly and went to the mat, could you push it through?

Andrew Beebe:             We have strong discussion and debate throughout our decision making process, but we just haven't had, at the end we really come to decisions together.

Jason Jacobs:                Okay. And you've talked a lot, first of all, the world positive context, super helpful. And then the context looking at individual companies or categories. Super helpful. One thing we haven't talked about yet is the limited partners. So when you think about the money that you're ... the people that you're raising the money from or the foundations or the the large institutional investors, how do you think about that and what kind of screen do you have for them?

Andrew Beebe:             We don't talk that much about the exact profile of who our LPs are, but we have a very diverse LP base that is represented by all the categories that you just mentioned. And we think a lot about who we take money from. And we are in a great position to be able to choose carefully who we work with. And it's both who we want to take money from. But also we can become very motivated by knowing that we're going to make money, make a lot of money for great institutions and families and nonprofit endowments and university endowments and the like. So something we take pretty seriously.

Jason Jacobs:                You might not be able to discuss it, so if you can't, we can just move on. But one question that comes to mind is just, I've heard two different schools of thought. One is that you want money from aligned sources and another is that not only does it not matter where the money comes from, but actually taking it from non-aligned sources is even better because you can take the money that would have otherwise not supported the causes you believe in and get put into the causes that are important for the world. Do you guys take a view if you can speak to that?

Andrew Beebe:             Yeah, I've heard all of these debates on both sides. I think we have plenty of structured, as with any venture firm, plenty of structures so that we are pretty independent in how we make decisions as a general partnership and that's what our LPs should want. But there's something really nice about knowing that you have alignment and support from your limited partners and really, I mean, it's somewhat self-selecting in that what we are offering them is this very specific thesis around purpose driven entrepreneurs taking on systemic challenges of our times. So I find that there tends to be a lot of alignment from them on that view and that differentiated offering in the marketplace of GPs that they can choose from.

Jason Jacobs:                And have you ever turned down an LP because they didn't pass the world positive filter?

Andrew Beebe:             I'm probably not going to comment on that, but we have been selective.

Jason Jacobs:                Okay. Well I think that's enough on that topic. I guess pulling it back a level. So I love what you guys are doing. I think it makes a lot of sense. I want to see more world positive companies exist. Exist for peace time, I would say that like you do this and from a human standpoint you feel good about that and in the long haul it'll lead to a better world. I can't help but worry though that in the short term, like if you talk even over the next several decades for example, that we really are in an existential crisis as a species, where we need to do bold near-term ... It's like wartime versus peacetime, right? Like the planet as in war time. So I guess, let me stop there. Do you agree with that assessment? And if not, why not? And if so, then how do you think about that?

Andrew Beebe:             I do agree 100%. I think there are different metaphors and different languages. And sometimes I feel like putting in that stark a contrast is can become [inaudible 00:19:33] and challenging. So I might say things in a different way. But I do agree that these are very serious times and that calls for serious measures. What my view is we've got to hurry up and prove to everyone, particularly our fellow investors, that this works. And this is a great way to look at the world. And I believe you're seeing more and more firms really take notice, not just of us, but take notice of firms like Generation and TPG Rise, and Double Impact from Bain and others.

Andrew Beebe:             There's a lot of dollars coming into this realm. But it should be 10 Xed. And as outcomes like Beyond Meat and others start to show up, I think we're going to see that happen. And if we do, then I will feel a real sense of accomplishment beyond our own impact at Obvious. But you're right, we need a thousand versions of Obvious or something like it to be out there and putting dollars to work to make this transformation happen faster.

Jason Jacobs:                So I feel like, I mean you guys have a world class team and you are taking a real leadership role in one important piece of the puzzle, and that's probably where you spend a lot of your time and energy, but how much time do you think about the rest of the puzzle? Is that something that you find yourself thinking a lot about? And if so, it'd be great to hear any thoughts on if you weren't doing this work, or work that you think other people should be doing that can also be big levers on this, I want to use the word crisis, but urgent time that we find ourselves in.

Andrew Beebe:             I guess rephrase that question. Like what do you mean? Like how much time am I spending in nonprofits and other things?

Jason Jacobs:                No, I did a poor job of asking it, let me try again. So you guys, within the venture capital world, it's a big asset class and if more venture firms put their dollars for work in a real positive way, better for the world, better for climate change. I'm sold. Right? That in itself is not going to get us there with a cape on. And so given that, just looking at the problem versus looking at it from the obvious ventures' view, what else do we need and what are the most impactful things that could happen just kind of on a global level across industries or even across levers, policy or NGO stuff, like just, I don't know, like what are the most impactful things that need to happen to bring about this transition? Obvious aside.

Andrew Beebe:             Everything. There's just so much, there's just so much. But I mean, look, there are other folks, this is a multi-front war if we're going to use your metaphor, but like breakthrough energy just backed along with a bunch of other people. Commonwealth fusion, which I'm personally, I'm not that bullish on fusion or fission as a solution here, but they're going to try some stuff. There are people working on, very carefully working on researching geo hacking, kind of geoengineering for climate change, which I'm skeptical of, but they're going to try some stuff. And then there're secondary, or maybe less obvious for some people, kind of movements around transitioning our food systems, transitioning many aspects of our transportation.

Andrew Beebe:             Like I can't think of a part of society that isn't really impacted by what's happening, and can't in many ways benefit from the upside scenarios of getting to work on this stuff. So pick a category. I mean maybe like ad serving technologies like good enough, and let's move on from that. If you're thinking about starting something, maybe that's not the most world positive realm to work in. But in every single other top 10 industries in the world, there's a lot of work to do.

Jason Jacobs:                So the fact that you guys don't take on science risk, do you think that science risk has an important role to play-

Andrew Beebe:             100%.

Jason Jacobs:                ... in this fight?

Andrew Beebe:             We're just not, you know. Yeah. We just happened to not have chemistry PhDs on the team. I track and try to support [inaudible 00:23:30] the work they do as much as I can. We are not Obvious investors for the things coming out of like Cyclotron Road up at Berkeley, big fan. A lot of the work that comes out of The Engine at MIT, big fan. And some of those we might be a fit for, but that's a lot of it is a little bit outside of our strike zone. But those people, I mean, we should have 20 Engines and 20 Cyclotron Roads across this country, there are actually, there probably are that many. But we should have 200.

Jason Jacobs:                So if you're just looking at our carbon problem specifically, how big a role does innovation have to play and what about policy? Where does that fit into the picture?

Andrew Beebe:             Well, I mean, I've always said I'm a fan of Bill Gates and certainly the deployment of Bill and Melinda Gates' wealth into these critical areas, energy and health and food and other things. But I truly wish that they would also just take off 50, a hundred, $200 million and go to work on lobbying efforts in countries like China and India. Not to mention United States. But we need a Manhattan Project of policy and lobbying to help these countries reconfigure their viewpoints, but also their regulatory frameworks to help them transition things faster.

Andrew Beebe:             If we had a global price on carbon that could ratchet up in a consistent and globally tradable way, I am convinced that things would move much, much faster. We should start in the United States. I mean, Europe, many countries, many countries except in the United States, have started down that path. So we have some catch up work to do, but taking on those kinds of policy challenges I think would be transformational for many very carbon specific businesses.

Jason Jacobs:                In the areas of innovation that require that price on carbon. Would you guys ever invest into that ahead of the curve or is it only in areas where there are kind of market ready today?

Andrew Beebe:             Yeah, I mean I think maybe there are some businesses like open air capture of carbon and stuff that "require" price on carbon, the solar industry, the wind industry, where we've done real investing, or solar, where we've done real investing. Energy storage, we've done real investing. Like those are not, they will benefit greatly from a price on carbon, the right price on carbon, but they also are terrific businesses already and independently. So we'll invest in those things anyway. I'm just, when you asked the question about how do we really deeply accelerate this transition, and I think policy and regulatory transition is lagging in many parts of the world, most importantly in the United States. And there's a great deal of work we could do there and money that could be spent there and energy that could be spent there.

Jason Jacobs:                So what role do the big hydrocarbon companies have in this transition?

Andrew Beebe:             You're either on the bus, the Proterra electric bus, or you're driving the bus, or you're getting run over by the bus. So I think they got to choose.

Jason Jacobs:                Should the big institutional funds divest?

Andrew Beebe:             I've always been in favor of upvest. I call it upvesting. I think that, yeah, I think that they should, it depends on their investment time horizon, but anyone who wants to make consistent, great returns over the long term, in my opinion, should not be holding stocks where the companies are dependent on a business model that looks more wrong, and more volatile every single day. So yes, if somebody can sit in front of you as an investment manager and give you a really clear vantage point or line of sight to them being a true leader to driving the bus or being somewhere safely in the back, then great. Make that judgment. But holding a coal company, one of the top five coal companies, 10 years ago, I think a lot of people thought that was a good bet. All five of them went bankrupt. That was not a good bet. So I haven't seen the logic that says that doesn't happen to a lot of other hydrocarbon-based companies.

Jason Jacobs:                Okay. And I get a little scattered here, but jumping back to something you said a little before, you said you're not that bullish on fission and fusion. I mean fusion, I know is a longer term play, but I mean, a lot of people say that fission, as we close the big existing light-water reactors, that I mean emissions arising just by of nature, the fact that we're not even keeping the ones that we have around. So I'd love for you to expand on that a bit if you don't mind.

Andrew Beebe:             I've seen the map. I think it's irrefutable, California certainly is dealing with this. It's a two-step process. You don't get to say like, "Let's shut those things down and then backfill it with gas." That doesn't work. I think we have some big problems to solve around longterm energy storage. Companies like Form Energy in the Boston area are well on their way to solving that.

Jason Jacobs:                Lots of science risk.

Andrew Beebe:             Lots of science risk.

Jason Jacobs:                But yes.

Andrew Beebe:             Yeah, I mean certainly relative to fusion, I think it's a lot less science risk.

Jason Jacobs:                [inaudible 00:28:22] just meant not a fit for the Obvious Ventures investment profile.

Andrew Beebe:             Yeah. I think the team is extraordinary. We didn't invest in them. But that is the kind of thing that we're excited by, right? Purpose driven entrepreneurs who proven track records, who are taking on a huge challenge. But that combined with a really limitless, I mean, we are now in the phase in the United States anyway of being able to say we have a limitless supply of renewable energy generating resources in wind and solar. We have transmission challenges in some cases ish, and we certainly have balancing, firming and energy storage challenges to get to 100%. So we've got work to do there, but the idea that we have to go build new fission reactors and forgetting some of the technical challenges that they've had in the past and maybe giving full credence to some of the technical solutions that we have in the future around fuel and fuel recycling and safety.

Andrew Beebe:             I still believe politically, and from a cost standpoint, or from a cost standpoint partially because of the politics, we are simply out of the money on fission versus wind, solar plus storage. So why bother? I think we've seen it in the Southeast. The overruns on these costs are insane and building them up and taxing the rate base, and then pulling the plug before you even light them up just proves this is ... blame it on whatever you want. It didn't happen and it cost billions and billions of dollars. Versus I've never seen a wind project that, well maybe with the exception of an offshore or something, but that's gotten like 90% built and didn't go through, never see solar projects where they say at the end, "Our final environmental check proved that this was way too dangerous for the local community." It just doesn't happen.

Jason Jacobs:                And so, I mean, it sounds like the primary concern is cost. So if maybe they'll never be a technology in fission that actually beats wind and solar on the open market. Like you said, if there was, would you support it?

Andrew Beebe:             Sure. The amount of dollars necessary to get to the point where everyone can believe that it's going to be safe and rapidly deployed. I've seen over and over again from great entrepreneurs evidence that in their own views of their own technology, we're talking many, many billions and a decade, and we don't, I mean that's the debate with Gates, right? He said, "We're going to get these things up and running like in mass by late 2020s." And by his own math, we don't have that time. So if somebody said, if Gates said, "We are going to deploy another terawatt of solar and a half a terawatt of energy storage in the next decade, here are the dollars. Let's go to work, and we're going to support this and this fusion efforts." I think that's awesome.

Andrew Beebe:             And in a world of sort of infinite capital and focus, or infinite focus and infinite capital, sure. All of the above zero carbon solutions, let's investigate everything, including geoengineering. If the research is done very, very cautiously. But it's got to start with let's plan the shutdowns of every fossil plant out there and plan the backfill with renewables and storage for every one of those solutions.

Jason Jacobs:                Yeah. The way someone described it to me recently, and to be honest, I'm still getting my brain around it, because there's a lot here, but they said that it's a suboptimal solution in a world where we're only left with suboptimal choices because we backed ourselves into a corner.

Andrew Beebe:             Yeah. I mean this is the way people describe the challenge around geoengineering, right. I've had really compelling, much smarter than me, scientists say, "Yeah, we know you hate talking about this and we know you don't like it conceptually and guess what? You can do everything you think you can do on the generating side and we've still got too much carbon in the atmosphere." So we need to, we've got to look at everything.

Jason Jacobs:                Yeah, I mean that's what I keep hearing. Is that like, like it or not, we're going to need it, fission at least. But again, the caveat is that I'm still doing the underlying work. I'm still going through the math. I'm a parrot right now, and I don't want to be a parrot. I want to actually understand this tough call, which is one of the reasons I keep focusing on learning over anything else that I could be doing.

Andrew Beebe:             I assume that the motivation for a lot of people on the fusion front is interstitial travel. Like people want to use this to power devices to move between planets. You just, when you do the math it's like, can you get below 2 cents a kilowatt-hour delivered with nuclear fusion technology that then needs to be transmitted and distributed? Because I can get to 2 cents a kilowatt hour off my roof. Not today, but pretty soon. And it's distributed by definition. And the answer is you can't, you can't build those central power plants effectively. If the output power at the stub is zero in cost. Your transmission distribution alone is whatever, it's, 6, 7 cents. So I don't know.

Jason Jacobs:                So, Andrew, I'm cognizant of time and I mean we could go and talk about this general problem, especially because there's so much here for hours or days or weeks or months. But I guess bringing it back around to the obvious side. So what are some areas that you're most excited about today? So if there's anyone out there listening and working on areas that are in your power alley that we make the connection.

Andrew Beebe:             I love transportation, mainly electrification, not fuel cells, but it could be on the ground, in the air, in the water. It doesn't have to be tech like the devices themselves. It could be business models like micro mobility business models, or air taxi business models, or things in shipping, et cetera, that are going to transform those industries. So I'm very excited by that. We spend a lot of time looking at the future of cities and trying to find a way that cities, as they become the dominant domicile for humanity, we're now over 50% moving toward, likely two-thirds of the population, living in cities. We want them to be happy cities, places where people can actually thrive and find happiness and love, and industry, and not be blade runner cities, where pretty much we could head down a path as sort of dystopian areas. And so we focus on, I call it the three Cs of cities.

Andrew Beebe:             It's connected, communal and clean. Clean really means how we generate our power, how we find our food, how we find healthy living. Connected really means how we can move through those cities, how we can think about commerce and education and work in those cities from a physical standpoint, like a WeWork or an Airbnb, but also from a sort of connectedness standpoint. How can we telecommute, how can we commute if we need to, but do it in a much lower friction way. And then communal means how can we actually build community, build relationships and not be sort of shut in folks who live in our tiny little apartments and get DoorDash all day and then use Zoom to go to work and never interact with humans. And connected also means, communal means connecting with the government too. How can we build more service oriented cities that are really meant to support the citizens and citizens feel really connected to them? So that's the future of cities is it's a big, big bucket, but I think there's going to be a lot of world positive solutions that come out of that zone.

Jason Jacobs:                I love that direction. I read that piece that you wrote with Di-Ann Eisnor as well, and I thought that was really good. Anything I didn't ask that I should have or any parting words for our listeners?

Andrew Beebe:             For the entrepreneurs out there, I think that this focus on building world positive, world changing businesses is, I think there's a thing there. I think a lot of investors, not just us, are very focused on it. Go to to get some inspiration, but just know that when you wear this, when you wear your values upfront and share that with investors, I think you're going to find a more and more receptive audience. And I also think it's pretty self-selecting when you do that and they're not interested because of that fact. I think that should tell you something about who you might be working with for a long period of time.

Jason Jacobs:                I think that's great. Well, I learned a lot from this discussion and I'm sure that the listener as well. So Andrew, thank you for coming on the show and hang out after I hit stop so that your file can upload to the cloud. Next time we got to do in person because we made the best of it with the remote and I think it was good, but you just can't beat that in-person connection. So next time, face to face.

Andrew Beebe:             Sounds good.

Jason Jacobs:                Hey, everyone. Jason here. Thanks again for joining me on My Climate Journey. If you'd like to learn more about the journey, you can visit us at Note that is .co, not .com. Someday we'll get the .com, but right now .co. You can also find me on Twitter at @JJacobs22 where I would encourage you to share your feedback on the episode or suggestions for future guests you'd like to hear. And before I let you go, if you enjoyed the show, please share an episode with a friend or consider leaving a review on iTunes. The lawyers made me say that. Thank you.