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[Column] Michiel Frackers: My Christmas request is: help invest in a sustainable solution news

[Column] Michiel Frackers: My Christmas request is: help invest in a sustainable solution

We are just before Christmas 2023 and this could be the time for a flashy annual review or an exciting look ahead to 2024. But there is something that we cannot ignore and that urgently deserves our attention. Last week the UN climate conference COP28 ended with a salty compromise statement. The Guardian made this balanced summary about this.

The US's position as the world's largest oil and gas producer remains unaffected. China will continue to expand coal production and India's industry has nothing to fear either. Saudi Arabia tried to remove any reference to fossil fuels, Russia worked behind the scenes to thwart progress and will try again next year when the climate summit is held in Azerbaijan.

Even as an optimist, the lack of specific targets for CO2 reduction does not allow me to cheer like a happy egg about the agreement reached to transition away from fossil fuels. Many countries, especially large CO2 emitters, have not agreed to concrete emission reduction targets. That makes the agreement as meaningless as the promises made by children in the weeks before Sinterklaas to be braver next year.

It's up to all of us now

In December 2015, I attended COP21 in Paris with colleague Hans Tobé, where it was expected that serious plans would be made for the first time forged to combat climate change and, in short, save the world as we know it.

With colleague Hans Tobé on the threshold of COP21 in Paris, December 2015


Hans and I, together with a group of like-minded people in the US and France, had just started Blue City Solutions, which aims to develop projects that promote CO2 reduction. For various reasons, one of which was the Covid pandemic, this has been more difficult than we had hoped.

Our thought at the time was that it was important for government and business to act together. In practice, due to unwillingness or incompetence, or an unfortunate combination thereof, politicians worldwide appear unable to develop a coherent policy that will combat global warming.

In the meantime, promising technological innovations have been developed, such as CSS technology that removes CO2 from the atmosphere and dissolves it in water but there have also been breakthroughs in ocean fertilization. Major breakthroughs are being made in the field of energy efficiency, which has made me convinced that this planet will be saved most quickly through innovations from society, where governments only act as a facilitator and not as a guideline.

iXora, from the Veluwe

Everyone who reads this newsletter, including via LinkedIn, Medium or Marketing Report, uses modern technology in everyday life. Whether it is cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Cloud or Microsoft OneDrive, AI applications such as ChatGPT or streaming services such as Netflix; modern life is made possible by services provided from data centers, a market that is currently growing almost 20 percent per year!

It is precisely those fast-growing data centers that consume power, especially to cool the modern, latest generation of servers. This means that together we are part of the problem. In my opinion, the solution is not to exchange our smartphones for old Nokias, but to take a leap forward and cool data centers in a better way.

That is what iXora does based on immersion cooling, cooling using liquid instead of air cooling, a patented technology that allows data centers to can save 30 percent on their energy consumption and also generate residual heat that can be used by homes and offices, for example. In short, iXora's technology leads to significant cost savings and structural reduction of CO2 emissions.

The most interesting startup in the Netherlands

I have previously explained in detail why I am not neutral when it comes to iXora and why I think iXora is the most interesting startup in the Netherlands. a>

Watch the short introductory video of iXora here 

In short: first of all, data centers are a global market worth billions that is forced to limit energy consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions, as quickly as possible. If only because of the energy costs!

Secondly, the unique technology that iXora uses to cool servers in the global standard 19-inch housing is well patented, which represents a competitive advantage. And thirdly, I got to know the founders as knowledgeable, energetic and reliable.

These three factors together are rarely seen in a Dutch startup. iXora offers an investment in accordance with the planet-people-profit principle, where technological progress makes a sustainable world possible in a profitable manner. That approach appeals to me.

What I also expect a lot from is the R&D project announced by iXora this week to apply iXora's cooling technology to the machines of NVIDIA, the undisputed market leader in the field of servers for AI applications. As a participant in the NVIDIA Inception Program, iXora will have access to NVIDIA engineers in making the iXora technology suitable for NVIDIA CPUs and GPUs.

And admittedly, in the context of full transparency: as a frugal Dutchman, I also think that the valuation of iXora, the price per share, is modest for a company in such a global market that already delivers its products to paying customers. If iXora were not located in Ede but in Palo Alto, the company would be worth at least five times as much. It's that simple.

The Christmas spirit in 2023: invest in sustainability

With any innovation, the most important thing is what the customer thinks of it. That is precisely why the opinion of Ludo Baauw, CEO of Intermax, is so important. As a Rotterdammer, he makes no bones about it. Watch his clear presentation here about the first installation of iXora at Intermax, in the NorthC data center.

Because you, as a reader of this newsletter, are also extremely interested in innovations that can improve our lives, I therefore ask you if you would like iXora supports. That is my call this Christmas.

You can participate from 5,000 euros and all information is available here. There are people who invest in the names of their children, so that any profits also reach the next generation. A nice thought, but I would carefully consider how smart your offspring is because it may involve serious pocket money.

Pay close attention, of course: despite my enthusiasm, I would like to emphasize that investing in startups is highly risky. Only do this with money you can afford to lose and assume that you have lost it; only, if you do get any of it back, it will probably be a lot more than you put into it.

Spotlight 9: Technology had a banner year in 2023

Speaking of investing and risks: it remains striking to see that despite the war in Ukraine, the misery in Israel and the Gaza Strip and the uncertainty surrounding the Chinese economy, with the American presidential elections looming, tech shares achieved phenomenal returns in 2023.

NVIDIA, Meta and Bitcoin were the winners of 2023. Looking over the last five years, things have been different.

In addition to 2023, I also looked back at the best-performing stocks in the last five years. That leads to a different picture and different conclusions. What is most striking in 2023 is not that NVIDIA, with a 242 percent increase, has been by far the best investment of the Spotlight 9, because that was no surprise with the explosion of the AI ​​market.

But I don't know anyone who expected that Meta (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp) shares would rise 168 percent this year after the disastrous 2022. The comeback of Bitcoin and Tesla was also striking. Investing, especially in technology, remains a strange combination of analytical thinking and belief in magic.

That is why it makes sense not to lose sight of the S&P 500: in this graph it is the loser of the class, but in 2023 this index rose 23 percent and over the last five years the increase was even 93 percent. For the cautious investor, the return is still many times better than a savings account.

Looking at the last five years, Ethereum, NVIDIA and Tesla have been the top three investments with staggering increases:

  • Ethereum: 1841 percent
  • NVIDIA: 1409 percent
  • Tesla: 1089 percent

I certainly expected Bitcoin to be on stage, but this shows once again that when it comes to investing, it is better to focus on analyzes than on predictions. Because I still can't give a single sensible answer to the most frequently asked question: what will be the next Ethereum, NVIDIA and Tesla in the next five years?

I would like to thank everyone for the interest, tips and feedback and wish all readers and their loved ones a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and all the happiness, love and health in 2024. See you next year!

Michiel Frackers is Chairman van Bluenote en Chairman van Blue City Solutions.