Technologies to Bet On

Matt Rourke/AP

From his perch at the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, our panelist John Doerr highlights two of the fields on the brink of technological upheaval.

Battery Technology

For decades, battery performance has improved at a very low rate—nothing like the annual 40 percent advance in microchips predicted by Moore’s Law. Better storage batteries would allow us to extend today’s power grid and to deploy more renewables.

Kleiner is backing some companies, like QuantumScape, Aquion Energy, and Amprius, that are using advances in materials and nanoscience—“the science of the small”—to develop truly disruptive technologies. If you could double or triple the energy density of a battery, you could reduce its cost by 50 or 70 percent, which could be a total game changer for transportation: electric vehicles would approach the cost of gasoline-powered ones.

Digital Health

Until recently, there was more information technology in your average grocery store than in your doctor’s office. It’s easy to imagine that a decade from now, all health-care data will be in the cloud, providers will carry tablets, and patients will wear devices that track their pulse, steps, and vital signs.

Kleiner has been investing selectively in tools that empower patients and providers, like MyFitnessPal and Practice Fusion. The goal is to go from a system that’s focused on sick care to one that’s working on health care.