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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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StorageTek Land Mystery Buyer Revealed

Comments (3)

Yesterday, it was announced that ConocoPhillips is the mystery buyer of the old StorageTek campus.  There was much revelry and prognosticating about how magnificent this is for the universe.  I agree – but only if ConocoPhillips razes the entire grotesque ugly thing and builds something nice and integrated into the natural beauty of the 432 acres they just bought with perfect views of the flatirons.

I was at a board meeting yesterday when this was announced and my first reaction was "superb – it’s not a large tech company."  A friend – who is on the board with me – said "damn, it’s not a large tech company."  One of the founders said "thankfully it’s not a large tech company." 

The early rumors were that Google or Microsoft had bought the campus and were going to build out one of their largest non-HQ campuses. This never made sense to me because the local tech community could never support a buildout like this.  The positive argument was "it’ll bring loads of new jobs to the area."  The counter argument is "yeah – right now we are strapped for great talent anyway, so bunches of people will have to move here to make it work."  You can go around and around in circles on this discussion, but I think to ultimately make it work you have to believe that you are going to be a huge net importer of new people.  While the Boulder/Denver software industry has been a large net importer of great folks from the coasts, I’m skeptical that we’d gracefully add 10,000 new high end software engineering jobs to this region without some real "entertainment."

Now – ConocoPhillips is planning to turn the campus into "a center to research hydrogen fuel cells, solar and wind power, and clean diesel fuel made from renewable resources. It also plans to establish a learning center to train employees from more than 40 countries."  That actually sounds perfect – the "cleantech" interest, talent, and expertise in the Boulder area is extensive but there are relatively few real non-govt / non-academic jobs.  Many people around here have been talking about how important the cleantech industry is – now Boulder is going to have an anchor tenant that is making a serious investment in it.  That feels much more sustainable and achievable to me.

Of course, it might be that ConocoPhillips has figured out a cost efficient way to extract fuel from the massive stores of shale located under the 432 acres and will be digging big holes in the ground.  That’ll stir up all my eco-friendly buddies in town.

Regardless – the big mystery is over.  And no – I’m not going to suddenly start investing in cleantech.

  • Tony Casson

    I'm suspicious that this project is just vaporware and that it will really become the base of operations to extract the deposits of oil shale from northwestern Colorado, Utah and Wyoming rumored to contain more oil than Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, I think the economic diversity of our region will greatly benefit from the company's presence and if it truly is a center for renewables then a big “welcome” from me.

  • Little Dissapointed

    So we are not yielding good talent out of our universities in-state? I find that hard to believe.

  • http://yoherb.typepad.com/domino Herb Morreale

    Nice post Brad. I agree with your take on this. This is a great opportunity to diversify things around here and help us not be so volatile as things ebb and flow.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/tony_casson5682 tony_casson5682

    I'm suspicious that this project is just vaporware and that it will really become the base of operations to extract the deposits of oil shale from northwestern Colorado, Utah and Wyoming rumored to contain more oil than Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, I think the economic diversity of our region will greatly benefit from the company's presence and if it truly is a center for renewables then a big "welcome" from me.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/herb_morrea3697 herb_morrea3697

    Nice post Brad. I agree with your take on this. This is a great opportunity to diversify things around here and help us not be so volatile as things ebb and flow.

  • Little Dissapointed

    So we are not yielding good talent out of our universities in-state? I find that hard to believe.

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