This article was originally published on January 17, 2019. The ad is still in heavy circulation, and we are still getting a lot of questions about it, so we’re re-posting our commentary here. The ad is still dated December 2018, and what follows has also not been updated or revised (if you wish to continue your research, the price of the primary stock discussed, Ilika, is now much higher than it was two years ago, there has been other news in battery tech, particularly with Quantumscape, which has now gone public through a SPAC at ticker QS… and Tesla itself is in a far different place as well than it was a couple years ago). We have also left the original comments appended to this article, they include some great feedback and questions and suggestions about a few other stocks in the sector.
“Forever battery,” “Jesus battery,” the “holy grail” of energy storage… those are all terms we’ve heard thrown around before, and in this instance they’re used by Matt McCall in service of his new pitch for his Investment Opportunities newsletter ($49/year for the “basic” version).
And like other advances in batteries, of course, he thinks there’s a way to get rich from it. McCall calls it the “Quantum Glass Battery” and says that all the big energy and tech companies are getting on board, as is the inventor of the lithium-ion battery (John Goodenough).
So will this latest battery be what “sets us free from the scourge of fossil fuels?” That’s a lovely thing to hope for, of course, and it will probably take some breakthroughs in energy storage to make renewable energy a much larger part of our energy supply (since, of course, the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, and battery charging is nowhere near fast enough to replace gasoline refueling right now at scale), but let’s see if we can ID the stock he’s talking about, then we can try to separate the stock from the hype and see if it appeals.
The first part of the ad is all about safety — demonstrating with some videos the flammable nature of the lithium-ion battery cells, particularly when they get pierced, and then showing a video to demonstrate that this prototype “Holy Grail” battery can take three gunshots and still keep charging your phone.
And he lays it on thick, as ad copywriters always do:
“I call it the Quantum Glass Battery.
“But, as amazing as this is, this is NOT what makes this new type of battery so awe-inspiring.
“This short demonstration offers just a TINY TASTE of something much more revolutionary…
“An evolutionary leap in technology so profound — so transformative — it will likely change everything about your life — from how you get around, to how you communicate with others, even the way you think about the world….
“‘The battery of the future.’ —
He says that this new “Quantum Glass Battery” will also provide “lightning-quick charging”… with a charge that can also last for weeks, not hours, and a much longer lifecycle (over 100,000 recharge “cycles” without degrading, compared to a few hundred for current batteries).
So that pretty much takes care of all current complaints about batteries. As long as it’s fairly light, seems like we’re pretty much guaranteed to all be using this new battery in a matter of weeks, no?
Well, these things take time to go from the lab to the real world. Lots of time. And companies in the past have tended to roll out new battery technologies and chemistries veeerrrryyyy slooooowwwwlllyy… largely because the technology just isn’t ready for commercialization, both because the materials science takes a while to make progress and because of the massive investment required to create new battery manufacturing capacity (and, of course, a new technology is always a r