While taking risks is valuable, it's only those who can successfully commercialize their breakthrough ideas who will succeed, Google cofounder Larry Page told Fortune in a feature interview.
You also need some leadership skills. You don't want to be Tesla. He was one of the greatest inventors, but it's a sad, sad story. He couldn't commercialize anything, he could barely fund his own research. You'd want to be more like Edison. If you invent something, that doesn't necessarily help anybody. You've got to actually get it into the world; you've got to produce, make money doing it so you can fund it.
Page points out how many engineers have been hired by Big Oil to find every last drop of crude, calling it "disproportionate to the return that they could get elsewhere." A big proponent of geothermal and solar, he further describes how cleantech investment that has focused on the move from fossil fuels to electricity doesn't solve the root problem of our grid being powered mostly by coal. And in his view, venture capitalists are ten years too late in funding green initiatives:
Look at VC investment in clean energy. What caused that to happen was two things: the price of oil going up and global warming. It's mostly the price of oil going up.
I think it's everybody who cares about making progress in the world. Let's say there are 10,000 people working on these things. If we make that 100,000, we'll probably get 10 times the progress.Fortune