The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Visual Aid: Ouch! Solyndra-gate makes the 'Daily Show'

Jon Stewart & Co. go to town on the Solyndra bankruptcy and potential Obama administration scandal. It's funny. Real funny. But I'm still worried that the media coverage of Solyndra-gate — as well as the blogospheric response — is perpetuating a couple of big misunderstandings:

1. That Solyndra wasn't being invested in before the DOE showed up with its $535 million loan guarantee. It had already been indentified by investors as a viable company that had a unique solar technology.

2. That Solyndra's total investment of roughly $1.5 billion...wasn't supposed to be spent! It had to get spent and spent fast, and here's why. Solyndra needed to provide an exit strategy for its investors that would have culminated in an IPO. No reason to save money while driving toward that goal. Also, if Solyndra was going to create the economic stimulus that the adminstration wanted, it had to get as much of that $535 million in play as it could, as fast as possible. On that front, Solyndra succeeded wildly: it managed to spend $527 million before it had to declare bankruptcy earlier this month.

So laugh along with the 'Daily Show.' But try to think a little bit like an investor in a risky, cutting-edge industry at the same time.

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