The death of a promising battery startup exposes harsh market realities

According to former employees, all of whom requested anonymity, Khosla Ventures lost confidence that Pellion could make enough money serving a niche market. The lithium-metal technology worked for products like drones, but the big money in the battery world is in the automotive sector. Investors weren’t willing to sink the money needed to develop the battery for electric vehicles.

“There are two camps in the battery world,” says Venkat Viswanathan, a battery expert at Carnegie Mellon University. “One that understands the problems and knows lithium-metal batteries are a long way off. Another that understands the problems, has some solutions, and knows that lithium-metal batteries will be in the market soon.”