Mike Cannon-Brookes virtue-signals energy debate to oblivion

I know this bloke means well but having $6bn does not make you expert on everything, via Twitter:

So, we don’t need an inquiry. Or a think tank for objective analysis. Or real protest action. Or actual research to uncover what’s really going on. What we need is a renewables “brand” under which to rally our fat arses on Facebook? At Domainfax:

In 24 hours, the logo with the most votes will win. As for where it will end up, and what’s next for the campaign, that’s still being worked out.

“I’ll work on getting it displayed somewhere … big,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said.

Where it will achieve precisely nothing.

Listen Mr Cannon-Brookes, you’re sinking in every debate that you take on. You can’t sit in your $100m mansion while offering $200 to make a logo. If you’re going to enter these debates then do it with some style. Spend $50m on a climate change think tank. Spend $100m on buying a newspaper. I would say give the The Greens heaps of money but they don’t care about the environment. Give it instead to Sustainable Australia.

Most of all, stop entering these debates with a throwaway tweet here and there. It reeks of virtue signalling. Do the research and be the expert on the topic. Like Dick Smith.

For instance, it is pointless debating whether renewables or fossil fuels are “fair dinkum” power. This is a retarded false binary. There are real issue integrating renewables with the grid, most obviously that they are unreliable and something must be able to stabilise that. The answer is gas generation and that’s the real problem in the entire debate. A gas cartel has occupied east coast reserves and won’t sell it at economic rates. This means the combined cycle and peaking power plants that offset renewable intermittency can’t work, prices rise and political mayhem ensues.

Or, if you’re really serious about climate change, then get debate going about why Australia may need mass nuclear power:

A renewables logo won’t fix anything. For haven’s sake stop treating the issue like it’s some kind of computer game. If you’re going to get involved then get off your arse and spend some real money. Wield some real power.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. He doesn’t have $6 billion. He owns 37% of the shares in Atlassian, a loss making company with a price to sales ratio of 20 times.If he can manage a sell-down at these levels however, then maybe he can put his money where his mouth is, but not going to be easy.

    • Cheers, Dan. The folks who started Atlassian are decent, if unremarkable, coders with great mass marketing sense. They not only convinced lots of large companies to buy their barebones product, but lots of toolmakers (some, former Visual Basic add-on “control” vendors whose names you’d recognise if you’re from that era — VB was, incidentally, marketed similarly) to write add-ons to make it more useful. This means that a lot of people talk about their products, ergo, free or low-cost marketing. They may even take a cut from add-ons sold via their add-on store, in which case they’re basically being paid by the tool vendors, for the tool vendors to have the privilege of talking up Atlassian products.

      This renewables virtue-signalling is just another use of the interest in “selling” things by hyping them as the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s…. Elon Musk-esque, if I may say that. And that’s just not a compliment. Musk is brilliant, but he’s also somewhat off the rails at the moment. I think being able to buy and sell the world can do that to you.

      I only caution Mr. Cannon-Brookes that Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Dick Smith are perhaps better examples of how a billionaire can throw their weight and wealth around, by really learning about the things they want to improve, staying away from the things they really don’t know about, and leveraging the expertise of many who know more about the things they want to improve, than they themselves know.

  2. Nuclear power is not renewable and it is still a finite resource with devastating consequences when things go wrong, which will happen especially more in a place like Australia where you cannot even find an honest banker.

    Oh yes but we know so much more today about Nuclear power and it is so much safer. Really? Well if we really did know so much more, how about at every inspection of old Nuclear plants we highlight all the safety issues ( because we know so much more now) and fix them (because we are SO much safer now). Obviously did not happen in Japan. Wont happen anywhere as the world is full of greedy, selfish, arrogant bastards who do not care about anyone else but themselves and we are a long way off fixing even that which is the root cause of our problems.

    • The problem with nuclear power in some ways is that it is “too good”. Us humans are quite fragile and it doesn’t take much energy to kill us. There is definitely a low limit to how much energy we can deal with safely. Besides the damage in Japan (2011) is still happening years later; they can’t fix it really. This video quotes human statistics; I’m more interested in wildlife stats especially in the oceans around there.

      • “I’m more interested in wildlife stats especially in the oceans around there” – the statistic way more important than over populated humans.

        If the world was over populated with some other animal apart from humans we would want to start killing them to reduce their numbers, but when it comes to humans, unlimited population numbers is the way it goes at any cost, even destroying the planet. Again, the world is full of greedy, selfish, arrogant bastards who do not care about anyone else but themselves and we are a long way off fixing even that which is the root cause of our problems.

    • The biggest problem with nuclear is economic. It’s simply waaaay too expensive, too slow to build, and with an unlimited amount of money needed to handle infinite-time storage and decommissioning. The costs never end.

      Renewables are FASTER, CHEAPER AND SAFER.

    • The biggest problem with nuclear is economic. It’s simply waaaay too expensive, too slow to build, and with an unlimited amount of money needed to handle infinite-time storage and decommissioning. The costs never end.

      Renewables are FASTER, CHEAPER AND SAFER.

    • The biggest problem with nuclear is economic. It’s simply waaaay too expensive, too slow to build, and with an unlimited amount of money needed to handle infinite-time storage and decommissioning. The costs never end.

      Renewables are FASTER, CHEAPER AND SAFER.

  3. It’s a good point that he could probably do more in other ways, but jeez, give the guy some credit for trying to raise awareness of the BS being spouted by the government.

    The SA Telsa battery has been a great success on all accounts that I’ve seen and he certainly had some impact on getting that going.

    Not being an expert doesn’t seem to stop the commentary here. I don’t see Mike claiming to be an expert, in fact he’s often stated the fact that he’s not and pointed to others who are, then involving them to make decisions.

    The gas reservation argument is certainly a strong one, but there’s more than one way to skin this cat.

      • I totally agree, one tweet means nothing, Trump tweets as we know. I want to see well thought out plans which are backed up by those with sound minds (rare these days). Someone calling out for renewables from their $100M mansion looks terribly fake.

      • I totally understand the criticism and I can see how it comes across as childish or ineffective, but it’s a start.

        One tweet may achieve nothing in itself, but this is also how the battery funding started, and it *does* raise awareness and the ability to get other people’s support and involvement to do something greater. This is already generating a lot of debate and discussion which is a great thing.

        Support is being offered by at least one person who is an energy / climate change expert: https://twitter.com/simonahac/status/1057513343894933504

      • The whole energy debate is pretty childish as it is a complex system that very few fully understand. Neither his tweet or your response HnH actually helps the debate. Until the debatees understand the types of power (baseload and peaking), we will forever has stupid fights about renewables v coal. From a consumer point of view, the power bill’s largest components are network charges (poles, wires, etc) which was gold plated and hence the high prices and power generation of which peaking can be a significant part of the cost (remember the wholesale power price goes over $10K per MWhour).
        If we want to talk about generation, I wouldn’t necessarily say that renewables are unreliable. They will replace coal powered generation as the renewables in question are baseload. The issues focuses around peaking power of which gas will form a part, but really we need different types of renewables that can be switched on at a moment’s notice. Hydro still does that and so can a battery. Pump hydro and storage is another option, but has to be built and is effectively like a battery anyway. I believe the criticism of Snowy Hydro 2 to be somewhat unjustified if its intention is for peaking power.

      • @jollyroger,

        Most of this is right. Pumped hydro is a better solution than battery because of the life-cycle if you want to discharge it frequently on daily peaks, rather than just use as backup in case of extreme loads. That said Snowy 2.0 may not be the ideal pumped hydro scheme because of connectivity and environmental issues. Origin is looking at Tallowa, on the Shoalhaven but there are hundreds of potential sites around the country. Turnbull was a bit hasty coming to a conclusion, but on the right track.

      • @Dan @JR
        You’re both forgetting Demand Side control. I know it’s not popular to talk about this but it’s an essential element of any long term National Electricity strategy.\
        Australia is no stranger to demand side control because we’ve had Off-Peak-hot water for as long as I can remember. However we’ve never really expanded this concept to Air-conditioning loads (many large US companies have huge underground Heat/Cool water storage just to better manage their Air-conditioning peak load (these chillers can be turned on/off as and when required to levelize power usage. That’s just one aspect of a modern day electricity Demand side control system …there’s a lot of low hanging fruit to be harvested but we all need to start thinking a little differently about the underlying problem. We all need to start thinking about mid day electricity being practically free and Mid-night being a premium product. There are a lot of things that need to change in Australia and I’m kinda of the belief that we are best served by tackling this curly issues first, because that’s how a society develops exportable expertise they tackle a difficult problem and develop workable solutions.

      • @fisho,
        Agree there are all sorts of things that could be done on demand side also. I can understand the energy companies’ frustration that they are unable to start dealing with these problems that should lie in the engineering and micro-economic domains because it has become an ideological battleground.

        Hard to believe the thing that most gets conservative voters riled is electricity generation, it used to be of interest to a very small subset of geeks. Its “Al Gore” derangement syndrome and I dare say Mike Cannon-Brooks contribution will only add fuel to the fire.

      • @Dan, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that non geeks are getting riled up about this stuff.
        I know many very well to do individuals that (just 10 years ago) could have cared less about how much power (electricity) they used on any given day. Once they got PV on their roofs their whole attitude changed…why aren’t I just using the power that I make on my roof? And than you try to politely tell them that it’s because their Pool heater / pump consumes 15Kw and is running 10 hours per day. For many this is the ah-ha moment, a kind of ..That can’t be true…. but it is. That’s the point where the stupidity stops, that’s the point when the pool temp in winter is allowed to drop below 25C ….
        Yeah I know a lot of rich folks that could care less about this topic until they get PV after PV they see the real cost and comparative cost of their choices …how much power that huge double door fridge really consumes…how much their wine cellar costs (in terms of available power)
        I know the examples that I’m giving are way over the top BUT just imagine each individual in western Sydney starts down this same path. Imagine they all realize that that cheap window AC that doesn’t really cool still consumes upward of 1Kw and does that 24/7 during the summer. These individual awakenings are one of the ways that we’ll tame the whole Residential Electricity Peak to Average beast (the whole reason for NSW Gold Plating)

    • they whinge about a skills shortage….go build a university wing, they winge about power….go fund a research paper on it

      boganaires with no class

      • meh.. the obvious troll reply I was expecting.

        So your idea of ‘funding a research paper’ is obviously not token, as you suggested it.

        But, contributing 17M USD and 37,000 hours of employees time. That’s token.

      • will this tax deduction façade stop them whinging about a skills shortage or the energy situation?

      • No skills shortage, just seem to want people of a certain “type” and age as employees, and not others, despite qualifications. I’ve known people who’ve interviewed there. Some were hired, some not. They missed EVERY SINGLE ONE of the people I consider “top of the game” and went with young hipster/cheerleader types. The difference? The people I know who I’d be willing to work for or with again were 20 years older than the young people I considered less reliable and less innately talented. Maybe he’s just after cheap. Maybe they consciously want an age 20-35 workplace.

  4. Aaah – Mike Cannon Brookes – Australia’s reply to Elon Musk: Craaaaazy, riiiiich (relatively) and with too much time on his (coder) hands, eager to leave his mark, much in the same way dogs do, on everything which brings him ‘atta-boy certificates’ in the form of facebook thumbs-up…

    Can’t launch a rocket with a car strapped to it… damn – what’s the next thing?
    Can’t send a useless submarine to a cave in Indonesia… damn – what else?
    Can’t tweet and cop a $30 mill fine… Heeey… I can twit the twāt in charge of Australia and send him a message laced with emojis to show him how fangry I am… Oooooh! That’ll scare them for Halloween.

    • I dunno what Musk is up to, but Tesla said the other day that their next generation of lithium batteries will have 5x the capacity of the existing (the batteries used in the Tesla 3)
      said the production line will be running mid next year.
      if that is the case,home batteries are the next go
      all this gold plated transmission lines are worthless, as are the companies associated with it.
      like super 8 tape players. Now you see em now you dont.
      (maybe electric subs are a goer after all??)

      • Panasonic Yes
        Seems the secret is in the charge discharge of the battery and the electrolyte.
        Each of those cells is monitored by a microprocessor and
        Tesla has open source policy on IP. Dont know about Panasonic IP.
        But as eagerly as the competition reverse engineers tesla products
        expect the batteries to be reverse engineered in 6 months.

    • haha true spoken. He cops a fair bit of tall poppy syndrome, but just imagine if he lived in Australia, the birthplace of tall poppy syndrome.

      • Look – most of these pansies poppies cop it in the neck because they are useless as tits on a chook (!)… None of them are towering personalities in any domain and the only reason they’re tall is because they have a mountain of money under their feet.

        They all are full of certitudes, and they all have the golden key to what ails us: “if you could just…” … no… *f*ck-off… I cannot just… I’ve just-ed it for all my life and there is no just… so why don’t you just crawl back into the hole you came from and leave us alone with your just-ing.

      • To Musk’s credit, he has challenged a lot of critical industries:
        – can launch a car into space, but mainly satellites (which we’re utilizing as we’re typing on the internet)
        – created mainstream economic and practical electric vehicles
        – pushed battery technology
        – created a payment method millions use on a daily basis

        Mr Atlassian, not so much. Gladly hew away at him.

      • Hence the “Australia’s response to…” qualifier… Usually most of our “responses” are cardboard mockery with a front of a thin (brick-)veneer of larrikinism, low-brow humour and unwarranted sarcasm. We’re sarcastic even though we don’t know why… 🤦‍♂️

        F*ck this … I need to get back to work.

      • Yeah mate, it’s a sad state of affairs. We never got away from that primary producer/colony mentality. At least once upon a time we had the hard, battler mentality.

        Ah well, probably all too late anyway. We got hard times ahead.

      • Tall poppy ended when Aussies voted for a psychopath who has money in the Cayman Islands. And also when Holden Caprice limousines were replaced by bulletproof BMW limousines.

        I think The Lodge in Canberra could be turned into a luxurious mansion with a helipad and Aussies will not care.

        Musk’s greatest achievement is inventing reusable rockets and thereby dramatically slashing the cost of putting a satellite in orbit. That too without using foreign workers because SpaceX is not allowed to hire foreigners.

        PayPal was a great achievement too.

        Unlike Mike, Elon does not cheer on mass immigration. Elon, Richard Branson, Zuckerberg, actually demand UBI.

  5. Nuclear, fark yes! What’s the absolute worst that could happen? We have a domestic nuclear industry that acts as a hub for highly capable engineers and scientists to come together and develop ideas. Who knows, we’ve been known to cause our own innovative breakthroughs in technology, we might well solve the interim energy crisis. What a horrible waste though! Much better to pay roofers $50 p/hr to throw sheets of metal on dogboxes and load up the populace with debt on unproductive assets….

      • We’ve clashed heads over all this before R2M. We’re not going to agree.

        Re: Uranium miners running a successful back door lobby campaign, they haven’t even got enough money to keep their doors open, nevermind funnel funds at corrupt pollies or run a propaganda campaign. It doesn’t even make sense for the Minerals Council to lobby for an alternative source of energy that is in direct competition with their baby, the coal industry. The truth of the matter is that these days,other than the Chinese and Indians, everyone hates Nuclear power. Little of it has anything to do with reality.

      • PolarBearMEMBER

        Brenton, I’m not against nuclear power, but I don’t think Australia needs it anymore with the way renewables technology is progressing. Nuclear is a massive complex of infrastructure (you don’t just install a few power plants) and the cost of “ensuring” safety does make it an expensive option.

      • Nuclear power and nuclear powered desalination plants are the best way to provide Australia with clean power and fresh water.

      • We’ve clashed heads over all this before R2M. We’re not going to agree.

        And you still have no chance of winning this argument. Nukes are going backwards everywhere except China.

        Total nuclear generation declined last year if one takes out China, and a Chinese nuclear growth gap is coming, since it hasn’t started building a new reactor in 18 months. … All the while, nuclear is falling further behind renewable solar and wind power. The 3.3 GW of new nuclear capacity connected to the grid worldwide in 2017 (including three in China and a fourth in Pakistan built by Chinese firms) pales in comparison to the 53 GW of solar power installed in China alone.

        Even the IAEA concluded that “even under the most favourable circumstances,” nuclear power wouldn’t slow global warming.

  6. I’m beginning to think Cannon-Brookes just isn’t all that smart. His tweet comes across like it’s been written by a fourteen year old.

    • Shut-up you! We will have choice… to vote for one logo or another. Have you *any* idea how long and how hard it is to come up with a 200×50 pixels logo that scales down properly? Those NASA point-dexters have no idea! I mean – look at their logo! How old is that?! Even f*cking Startrek had better logos!

  7. It’s probably frustration like the rest of us with a go nowhere energy policy. LNP and ALP need to give a f about this and give a take a bit. They need to realise we’re not going to stand for this constant road block and it is a “sovereign risk”. We’re close to a major issue on energy if nothing else it’ll be us unable to pay for it. I can speak for myself with $560, $650 and $480 gas bills over the last three cycles we’re getting squeezed on all our utilities. Personally, I’m going to just use the bare minimum from now on, and BBQ cooking and wood fire for heating. I changed energy companies for one final test of bills.

      • Mike Cannon Brooks: “Let them choose a logo” – 2018 (for real)
        Marie Antoinette: “”Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” – 1843 (apocryphal?)

      • no I won’t and don’t get me wrong he’s out of touch, and not honest if you look at his employment visa push. I agree he could put money into it and I wish he would. He should shut up if he can’t make a difference,

      • There is some doubt about whether or not Marie Antoinette ever said ‘Let them eat cake’ – or anything remotely like it – but there is no doubt at all she said precisely nothing in 1843.

    • “we’re not going to stand for this ”
      What you gonna do about it? mouth off on an economics blog?

      • The only solution is revolution of one form or another, but that is far beyond my measly capabilities, and always will be as long as people stand around saying we won’t stand for it, while not doing anything about it.
        You can mouth off as much as you want, just don’t expect anything to change because of it.

      • You’re right, I don’t expect things to change and I’m not doing a revolution. It’s frustrating being scammed constantly by a supposed democracy. I’m more worried about how my daughters generation will cope, and they are as well, which in our case sees anxiety with her and all her friends.

    • Is that all you pay for gas ;), you should try living somewhere cold, our gas bills for the last two quarters for two people was $980 and $853.

  8. Sorry, but Dick Smith was pretty much a disaster. Should have invested a little less in research (anyone can google that stuff up) and a little more in communications consultants. He repulsed just about everyone under the age of 45.

  9. Am I not allowed to call him a prick?

    He likes wage theft.
    He likes the dumbing down of Aussie “degrees”.
    He says automation will kill a lot of jobs but refuses to say that UBI should be put in when that happens.
    He likes the real estate bubble – why else would a guy who employs no more than 1000 people want mass immigration?

    The CEO of Softbank is worth 4.5x as much as Mike Cannon Crookes while Japan has a shrinking population. Go figure.

  10. Thurston-Howell should to stick to campaigning for IT slave labour, and installing a new runway on his harbourside acreage.

  11. I think the key point here is that a public business figure has openly called Bullshit to a sitting PM.

    Aside from Murdoch and News Corpse, can’t think of too many other examples…?

  12. Interesting how we keep hearing about supply, how about curbing demand? All these skyscrapers, 4 cars per family, public transport and office buildings with no opening windows so must use aircon, sprawling cities without thought to resident amenity so car not needed for everything, enormous houses with few doors, tiny apartments without cross ventilation…. The list goes on.

    Not saying we shouldnt be exploring new energy but in interim, demand side needs to be addressed.

  13. PolarBearMEMBER

    If he really does start an effective campaign I’ll bury all my criticism. But it doesn’t look like a good start: “In 24 hours, the logo with the most votes will win. As for where it will end up, and what’s next for the campaign, that’s still being worked out.”

    As others have mentioned in the comments, it does speak to the calibre of entrepreneur that he is. Some of these IT billionaires really aren’t that smart or innovative. He’s not in the same league as Elon Musk.

  14. Really? Disappointing you take this stance. The loonies on the right have their platforms to vent through Jones, Hadley and Murdoch, what is wrong with someone in a position of influence on the other side getting their message across? The guy used his influence to connect Musk with the SA government and get SOMETHING happening. Is this not a good thing? If he has enough people listening to him, there’s more chance the government will do something, anything. What’s $50m on a think tank going to do other than fill the coffers for some rent seeking consultants, and produce a 200 page glossy report telling us what we already know.

  15. The long term solution for Residential power almost certainly has naught to do with Natural Gas.
    Residential Power in a typical suburban environment simply needs Solar (PV), storage (Battery, plus possibly Hydrogen/Methane generation) AND local fossil fuel generators for emergency backup coupled with the right to share excess power within the local community.
    Natural Gas could be helpful but definitely not at current domestic prices.
    IF (as I suspect) supplying the vagaries of residential power stops being a Grid issue and becomes more of a community management issue than there are very easy ways to dramatically reduce Residential Electricity usage Peak-to-Average ratios Doing this and nothing more. would be enormously beneficial to Grids overall stability and Power generation planning for the Grid sans Residential.
    Heavy industry typically doesn’t have high peak to average Electricity usage profiles it’s more constant, Commercial is different But there are a lot of proven ways to tame the Peak to average for Commercial and Light industrial. Doing this tames the Electricity demand beast and enables one to level out consumption OR schedule additional load when the commercial PV farms are delivering their peak power. (duck back curve)

    Hate to say it HnH but you’re the one that is wearing blinkers, you’re the one that can’t imagine a grid transition solution without Natural Gas. Natural Gas is only a temporary solution so maybe everyone just prefers to transition directly to the Residential end game which was always going to be PV+Storage.

    • PolarBearMEMBER

      “AND local fossil fuel generators for emergency backup coupled with the right to share excess power within the local community.”
      Um….that would be natural gas. What other fossil fuel power generation were you planning to turn on and off at a moments notice? It’s not possible/extremely expensive to do that with coal generators.

      • Your choice of Fuel depends on how often you need to turn on the “emergency” power.
        Today I’m inclined to way way way over allocate on PV it just so cheap, so with over of 10KW of PV I’ll get about 40Kwh generation on an average day, that’s way more power than I use. Even on a really bleak mid winters day I can get 5 to 10Kwh per day so with that in mind and keeping in mind the nature of my mid winters energy requirements, I can get through practically any day/week with under 15Kwh of battery and 10Kwh of PV….the generator is really just for show, the one I have at the moment is a AEG Petrol powered 6Kw system that I start once every couple of months just to make sure it still works.

      • If you look even longer down the road than wrt Residential Emergency power the fuel of choice is very likely to be some sort of Hydrogen derivative. Hydrogen itself is way to difficult a fuel to store however if you turn your self made hydrogen into Methane or Methanol than storage is much simpler. Maybe some form of Ammonia is an easier way to store a lot of energy for emergency backup I’m not sure I’ll leave that to the chemists.
        As for the actual generator I can say that long term it wont be any form of Internal combustion or External combustion or Turbine because FuelCells and batteries will ultimately win out.
        In a way this is why I’m saying to HnH that this Natural Gas shortage stupidity is an opportunity for Australia to jump to the next step, leap over NG as a transition fuel. Nothing screams FU louder than completely bypassing the product of a company that tries to “manage” the market for its own benefit.

    • Hate to say it HnH but you’re the one that is wearing blinkers, you’re the one that can’t imagine a grid transition solution without Natural Gas

      I have to agree, plus the new touting of nuclear is out of left field. Come on, HnH, do some research.