Detroit — Rent-seeking is the new venture capital model, Kleiner Perkins managing partner Ray Lane explained to an electric car-conference here Wednesday.
In an extraordinary speech, Lane laid out how market socialism can guarantee profits for politically connected VC firms like Kleiner — far more preferable to the old model of “throwing a dart at a dart board,” as Lane has put it. While Silicon Valley–based Kleiner made its reputation as a financier of tech startups like Netscape, Lane confided that they are inherently risky ventures in uncertain, fast-moving markets.
By contrast, Lane expressed admiration for communist governments like China and market-socialist economies like France where government determines new markets, thus providing a more certain investment climate for rent-seekers. With Kleiner partner Al Gore lobbying for federal mandates from wind to electric cars, Kleiner would be assured of a return on otherwise risky investments like Fisker Automotive, a California electric car company.
“China gets it,” said Lane. “They require that cars be 10 percent more efficient than the U.S, require 5 times more wind power.” He also extolled France as an example of centralizing electric utility authority at a federal level. It makes things “so much simpler” he said.
To pursue this goal, Lane advocated federal polices that would end fossil fuel use including a carbon tax and a gallons-per-mile tax on automobiles (rather than the current tax on each gallon sold).
In sum, Lane expressed concern that the U.S. is lagging in what he says is a global trend towards centralized governance (and here we thought the U.S. won the Cold War). Due to the lack of government dictates, the U.S. today is “falling behind. Of the top 30 renewable companies in the world, only six are in the U.S.,” he lamented — ignoring the fact that U.S. energy costs are among the world’s lowest thanks to a lack of such mandates.