In the 90s when George Shaheen was CEO at Accenture I was at a dinner speech where he said “Like Bechtel, I want my firm to go in to obscure parts of the world and raise cities where they were none. Digital cities in our case”. I could relate. 10 years prior as a young auditor I had spent time in the city of Jubail, Saudi Arabia where Bechtel had been the master program director. I was impressed with the thousands of blueprints and program plans which showed the complexity of coordinating massive shipments from Japanese, Korean and other suppliers. And labor from at least 20 countries that turned that piece of arid desert into a modern township.
Like Accenture, Bechtel is a darned good integrator. Like Accenture which is good at managing staff ebbs and flows, Bechtel is good at managing cashflow ebbs and flows.
But today, I see a Bechtel rep say about VC investment in Greentech “Capital needs will be far greater than what venture capitalists experienced with high tech.” Actually infotech has seen much bigger investments than the construction industry. It’s just that VCs were selective which segments of the industry they chose to invest in like chips and software. They kept away from those that required massive armies or oodles of long-term capital like systems integration, outsourcing and telecom services.
I suspect something similar will happen in Greentech. VCs will leave those segments which need armies and long-term capital to the Bechtels, and increasingly the Accentures of the world (as smart infrastructure projects require blending knowledge of sensors, fuel cells and cements). The VCs will happily be funding startups which make better sensors, better yielding cells and newer cements.