cleantech insights

Opower’s growth: an interview w/ SVP @roderickmorris

M Paschich


On May 21-22, Opower and Cleantech Group are co-hosting the New Utility Business Model Summit. It’s no question that the utility industry is increasingly shaped by higher customer expectations, expanding deployment of distributed energy generation, and ambitious energy efficiency goals. In the lead up to this summit, we’re interviewing key policy makers, regulators, and influencers on the topic of what the evolving utility industry will look like, and the opportunities that this evolution will create for utilities to develop deeper and more profitable relationships with their customers.


Congratulations on a successful IPO! What does this mean for the future of Opower and your utility customers?

Friday [April 4th, 2014] was definitely an exciting day: it was great to celebrate it with so many other early Opower employees who have worked so hard together to grow this business over the past several years. With that shared experience, we could all appreciate how this new funding validates the work we’ve been doing, and there’s real excitement knowing that we’ll now have even more opportunity to make investments that help people use less energy. We’ll do this through the four core business lines served by our platform, which are …


This Deal Matters: Evogene files for IPO

Amanda Faulkner

 Evogene, an Israeli developer of biotechnologies geared toward developing improved plants for agriculture and biofuel industries through use of plant genomics, filed for an IPO on the NYSE on November 11. The company plans to raised $86 million and would have a market value of $412 million at the midpoint of its proposed range. Evogene has established collaborative relationships with Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, and Bayer CropScience, showing real traction with the top players in the industry.

While the public markets have opened up a bit, with BioAmber, Control4, and Silver Spring Networks recently listing, it is still tough for companies in the areas of energy, materials, water, and agriculture to go public. However, Evogene is not the only agriculture company approaching the public markets. Marrone Bio Innovation, a US developer of natural weed, pest and disease management products, raised $57 million on NASDAQ in its August 2013 offering.

With Evogene’s filing, we could see even deeper interest in companies working on geed genomics for both agriculture and biofuels. To see which companies may be on the road to a public offering or could attract large venture rounds, we rounded up some of the …

The Week in Cleantech: Oct. 21 – 27


StemThe i3 Platform tracked exciting news from across cleantech sectors last week. Stem, a company marketing battery energy storage systems designed to enable commercial utility customers to better manage their energy use and avoid peak rates, announced a financing partnership with Clean Fleet Investors. Through the program, which has an initial sum of $5 million to work with, Stem will begin offering its battery energy management systems at no or low up-front cost, much the way residential solar companies have spurred higher demand through lease and power purchase agreements.

AutomaticIn another interesting partnership, Automatic, a provider of vehicle monitoring solutions designed to help drivers become more fuel-efficient, got a boost from Apple, which said it would begin offering Automatic’s product in its stores.

Meridian EnergyIn New Zealand, renewable energy generation company Meridian Energy announced its intent to conduct an initial public offering worth $1.7 billion. At that size, the offering would be the New Zealand exchange’s largest ever. While the majority of the company’s generation portfolio comes from traditional hydro-electric plants, which provide more predictable baseload power, it also operates almost 400 MW of wind power.

277-1_logo_v1Several companies raised venture funding during the week. WiTricity, a company …

The Week in Cleantech: August 5 – 11


Last week brought a flurry of IPO news in cleantech. Industrial biotech company Intrexon, which raised $150 million privately in Q2, commenced its trading on the NYSE at $16 per share, raising $160 million more. The company has been backed by its billionaire Chairman and CEO, Randall J. Kirk, as well as Third Security, NewVa Capital Partners, and several undisclosed investors.

Pattern Energy Group, a developer and operator of renewable energy and transmission assets, filed for a $345 million IPO. The company was bought out in 2009 by private equity firm Riverstone Holdings, which speculated during the week that it, too, would float a new related entity, Riverstone Energy, on the London Stock Exchange. The new publicly traded fund expects to raise GBP500 million ($778 million) and invest in the oil & gas and renewable energy sectors.

NovaLED, a Germany-based developer of high-efficiency organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), was acquired by Samsung for $350 million. The company had raised just over $35 million from venture investors including Samsung Ventures, TechFund Europe, TechnoStart, CDC Entreprises, Omnes Capital, and others.

In venture capital, LP Amina, a China-based provider of emissions …

The Week in Cleantech: July 29 – Aug 4


Smart buildings start-up Control4 listed its IPO on the NASDAQ under the symbol CTRL at $16 per share, the midpoint of its planned range, raising $64 million. Major venture shareholders include Foundation Capital, Thomas Wiesel Partners, Frazier Technology Ventures, Cisco Systems, and Signal Peak Ventures.

Rive Technology, a developer of zeolite catalyst technology for improving the efficiency of the oil to gasoline conversion process, raised $20 million in fresh growth equity in a round led by new investor Saudi Aramco Ventures. Existing investors, including Charles River Ventures, Advanced Technology Ventures, Mitsui, and Nth Power, also participated in the round.

Solar PV-Thermal hybrid system maker EchoFirst was acquired by SunEdison. The price was not disclosed, but the new parent plans to finance installations of PV-Thermal hybrid systems with a dedicated $50 million fund.

Modular nuclear reactor developer NuScale Power gained a new development partner in Rolls Royce. The diversified power systems manufacturer known for jet engines and spiffy cars also has a 50-year history in the nuclear power industry, and is sure to be an integral partner in the commercialization of NuScale’s technology under the US DOE Small …

The Week in Cleantech: July 1 – 7


The first week of the third quarter brought significant deal-making activity in cleantech, despite the U.S. Independence Day holiday. Most noteworthy were a few deals involving some venture exits:

ecoATM, a maker of electronics recycling kiosks that had raised just over $30 million in venture capital from investors including Claremont Creek Ventures, was acquired by Outerwall, maker of Coinstar money-changing kiosks, for $350 million. Outerwall had also been a strategic investor in the company.

There was also a flurry of IPO news during the week. French industrial wastewater treatment company Orege listed its IPO on the Euronext Paris exchange, raising EUR20 million ($26 million) in a transaction that values the company at around EUR60 million. Orege is backed by Climate Change Capital and Oraxys.

And in the U.S., two cleantech companies filed for $60 million IPOs during the week. Control4, a Salt Lake City, UT-based maker of building energy management and control systems toward energy efficiency, is backed by Foundation Capital, Cisco, GSV Capital, and others. Marrone Bio Innovations, a Davis, CA-based developer of natural weed, pest, and disease management products for plants and crops, is backed by Calvert Investments, …

Global venture investment declines, but corporates step up and the IPO window cracks open

Sheeraz Haji

Venture capitalists might be running short of cash. This past quarter (Q1 2012), global venture capital investments declined 19% from the prior quarter and 31% year-over-year (see our press release here). On a brighter note, the total number of deals recorded in the quarter was 185, up from 176 in Q4 2011, and the tally will rise again once we round up other investors who have not yet reported all their deals for the quarter.

Despite an investor bias towards later-stage investing, early stage deals increased this quarter. The proportion of early stage deals increased from 37% (Q1 2011) to 44% (Q1 2012). The absolute number of early stage deals increased from 67 in Q4 2011 to 81 this past quarter. Huh? What’s going on? I think investors are creating a “barbell effect” – favoring hot early stage deals with repeat entrepreneurs and capital efficient business models as well as later-stage companies that already have a proven product and business model (e.g. SolarCity). In the middle, life is tougher. These “in the middle” Series B and Series C companies already have institutional investors but often are still working to remove technology and market risk from their business. They …

Why I believe 2012 will be a record year for cleantech innovation financing

Sheeraz Haji

The death of cleantech venture capital has been greatly exaggerated. Yes, there were a few massive failures in 2011, and of course it’s been difficult for a number of cleantech venture capitalists to raise funds. However, cleantech did not implode, and neither did venture capital.

On our recent Quarterly Investment Monitor webinar I predicted 2012 will be a record year not realizing this was a particularly bold claim. However, judging by the number of comments I have received from clients and colleagues, I am realizing this may be a contrarian view. Here’s my rationale:

1) Math – We tabulated just under $9 billion in global cleantech venture investments in 2011. Since 2005, cleantech venture investment has increased each year excepts for 2008 to 2009 when we experienced the mother of all economic crises. On average, cleantech venture investments have grown 26% per year since 2005. If we use this average rate to extrapolate, we will see $11.3 billion in 2012. That’s a pretty big step up from the current record year – 2008 which saw $9.5 billion.

2) I believe we will see a couple of rock-star IPO’s in 2012 and this will drive renewed enthusiasm in cleantech and specific …

How do you say Zipcar in French? – Maybe something to think about after 13 April

Stephen Marcus

By now, we all know that Zipcar has priced its IPO at $14-$16 dollars per share and is planning a NASDAQ IPO for 13 April. We also know that despite bringing in over $180 million in revenue, the company reported a $14 million loss in 2010. So why, in my opinion, is Zipcar destined for success? What makes Zipcar different from the numerous other car sharing companies using similar, if not identical business models?

I decided to turn over a few stones to investigate. To find out more, take a look at the Company Insight Profile (subscription required).

Sales + Scales – On a company-wide level, Zipcar’s comprehensive geographical reach is another differentiator vis-à-vis smaller competitors because its technology platform and operational backend can be spread over a wider consumer base, and it has consequently refined its business operation with over 10 years of experience.

A prime example can be seen when looking under the hood of Zipcar’s acquisition of UK-based Streetcar. In 2010, Zipcar’s established markets brought in an average $28 million of revenue each and were operating at above a 20% margin, much higher than Streetcar’s marginal loss in London despite the market being of equivalent size.


Weekly cleantech investment highlights

Stephen Marcus

Each week our research team tracks cleantech transactions across the globe. This week we recorded 15 venture deals, 4 fund announcements, 20 M&As and 2 IPO related announcements. Below are some of the highlights. Cleantech Group subscribers can see the full roundup of all the deals here.

VC, private company and corporate investments

Over $225 million was raised by 15 cleantech companies globally. The two largest deals were:

  • Canada-based GFL Waste & Recycling Solutions, a provider of waste and water treatment services, raised C$105 million ($103 million) from Roark Capital Group. Roark invested C$60 million at closing and has committed C$45 million more for organic and acquisition growth opportunities.
  • Virginia-based Opower, a developer of energy efficiency and smart grid software, raised $50 million from Kleiner Perkins, Accel Partners and New Enterprise Associates.  The funding will go towards launching new products in 2011 and scaling up to quadruple its current customer base.


Announcements were made by 4 funds looking to raise over $300 million. The top 2 were:

  • UK-based technology-focused venture capital firm Rockley Group doubled the size of its China fund to $200 million following an agreement to raise a $100 million fund in partnership with the Shanxi