Bridge between IT and energy

When you look at the IT industry and the energy production/distribution industry it is hard to find many things in common between the two. When you think of IT, you think of computer nerds, office jobs and Silicon Valley. When you think of the energy sector, you think of drilling/mining, hard hats and physical labor. These thoughts are true to a large extent right now, but it is beginning to change and the two industries are becoming a lot more alike. They aren’t both changing though; only the energy sector is starting to look a lot more like the IT industry.

Silicon Valley is home to many of the biggest IT companies in the world like Google, Intel and Cisco Systems, among many others. All these companies have a lot in common with regards to the corporate culture and atmosphere, at least when you compare them to companies in completely different industries. However, new energy start-ups are trying to use technology to come up with new forms of energy that is clean, sustainable and will be the main fuel source of the future. These companies look a lot less like the mining businesses in West Virginia and a lot more like the high-tech companies in Silicon Valley.

In fact, the trend with these new energy companies is to actually be located in Silicon Valley and they are also beginning to attract the same employees that normally work for the high-tech companies. The jobs they do for these companies are surprisingly similar to what you would expect in the IT industry with a lot of work on the computer and in meetings in an office setting. Another similarity these companies have with the IT industry is that they require investors to help finance their development and growth.

There are a few key differences however with the new energy companies that are popping up. Firstly, the time frames they look at before they are profitable or even properly operating are much longer than the average IT firm. Their technologies are more complex, with more unknowns and involve infrastructures that for the most part, do not actually exist yet. IT companies generally take some time to develop their software or product/service, but once that is completed they are ready to sell to the world. With new forms of energy, the process of making the product ready to be sold takes longer and is not economical at all until they reach economies of scale.

This leads to another difference these start-ups go through and that is the amount of money they require. They need investors that will understand that the time frame until they will see a return on investment is much longer than an IT firm, but at the same time, the money required is much more than most IT firms. These two factors obviously make finding an investor a lot harder. In fact, some of the successful IT companies are the investors for these energy start-ups (i.e. Google, Intel).

On the flip side, the eventual returns on these start-ups are supposed to be much higher than other tech companies because although companies like Google can make life easier and more productive, they are not able to heat your home or give you the ability to cook your food. This is why energy start-ups are becoming a big and very important industry in the world and this will likely only grow in importance as we demand more energy.