1. VCs Like Their Buildings as they Like Their Deals: Efficient.
Of all the cleantech sectors, efficiency companies continued to attract the most VC dollars throughout the first half of 2013, according to numbers from the Cleantech Group. The sector soaked up 19 percent of all venture investments during the first six months of the year. The number of energy efficiency deals rose 45 percent in the second quarter to a total of 79 through June.
Major recent deals include:
- Blu Homes: The maker of green prefab houses received $65 million from Brightpatch Capital and Skagen Group in June.
- View: The dynamic glass manufacturer brought in $60 million from Khosla Ventures, General Electric, and The Westly Group in June.
- Aligned Energy: A producer of energy-efficient, modular data centers raised $60 million from Inertech, One Equity Partners, and Skanska during Q2.
There was also a series of deals in the space this year that show that the marriage of smart building or home energy management and Big Data is beginning to blossom. To wit:
- Tado, a German heating control app startup, raised $2.6 million on Sept. 6 from Target Partners and Shortcut Ventures, a follow-up to their previous $2 million in the company. Tado says it will reduce “home heating costs with a smart energy platform that learns a home’s patterns and thermal characteristics.”
- Bidgely, a startup that helps consumers monitor and manage their household energy use, raised $5 million in series-B funding from Khosla in July.
- Optimum Energy, whose software collects data to manage HVAC systems, received a $2 million venture investment from Edison Energy in August, an extension of $12.2 million series-B round they raised in June by Navitas Capital and Johnson Controls.
- Aircuity, a Newton, Massachusetts-based maker of energy-use sensor and control systems for air ventilation, raised $3 million from CCM US, LLC in July.
- Honest Buildings, a NYC-based real estate network that enables building professionals to share data on energy efficiency, raised $5.5 million in series-A funding in June from Westly Group and RockPort Capital Partners.
- Rhode Island-based GreenBytes, a data center efficiency company that develops “virtual desktops,” raised $7 million in series-C funding from Battery Ventures and Generation Investment Management in April.
- Isotera, a U.K. company that uses magic and fairy dust to connect LED lights without cords or direct contact, raised $2.4 million in April from angel investors including Qi3 Accelerator, the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF), Synergy Energy, Martlet, and members of London Business Angels, Cambridge Angels, Cambridge Capital Group and Surrey Investment Club.
- BuildingIQ (named to the ’12 Global Cleantech 100 and the Bloomberg New Energy Pioneers lists), a developer of energy management software that optimizes HVAC systems, raised $9 million from Aster Capital, SFS VC (Siemens), and Paladin Capital in January.
Other notable VC-funded efficiency software startups that won accolades:
- Opower, a developer of individualized reports for utility customers that analyze their energy usage, was named to the ’12 Global Cleantech 100, CNBC Disruptor 50, and The WSJ’s Next Big Thing in Cleantech lists. It raised $50 million from Accel Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in October 2010.
- PoweritSolutions, which makes energy demand response and control software, was named to the ’12 Global Cleantech 100 List. It received $5.5 million in series-C funding led by Black Coral Capital in December 2012.
- Tendril, a developer of home energy management software that enables utilities to engage with consumers, was named to the ‘12 Global Cleantech 100 List. It received $15 million in funding in Dec. 2012 from VantagePoint, Good Energies, RRE, Siemens Venture capital and GE.
- Hara, which produces an enterprise software platform for energy and sustainability management, was named to The WSJ’s Next Big Thing in Cleantech list. It received $25 million in a series-C venture funding in May 2011 from Focus ventures, Energy Technology Ventures, Navitas Capital, Kleiner Perkins, JAFCO and Nth Power.
- OSIsoft, which makes software used to capture, process, analyze, and store data relating to manufacturing processes, was named to the ‘12 Global Cleantech 100 List. In Jan 2011, it received a $135 million investment by Technology Crossover Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
And these two companies are currently seeking new funding:
- Sefaira, which produces web-based efficiency software for sustainable building design, is currently looking to raise $8 million. It received a $10.8 million series-A venture investment in April 2012 led by Braemar Energy Ventures.
- Greensleeves LLC, whose software can reduce HVAC energy consumption and pollution by more than 50 percent, is looking to raise $5 million after taking in $3 million from private investors. According to its investor presentation, its chief competitor is BuildingIQ.
2. Energy efficiency companies didn’t just take money from venture capitalists this year. They also made investors money through exits and acquisitions. These included:
- Control4, a Salt Lake City-based maker of home energy management and control systems that previously attracted north of $50 million in venture capital from investors including Foundation Capital, Cisco and GSV Capital Corp., went public on August 4. The IPO raised $64 million.
- Joulex, which makes energy management systems for companies, was acquired by Cisco for $107 million in July.
- Solais, which makes LED lighting, was bought by Powersecure in April for $15 million.
- In March JDSU paid $85 million for Arieso, a maker of location-tracking software for mobile carriers.
- Acuity Brands paid an undisclosed amount in January for Adura Technologies, a maker of lighting controls.
3. Efficiency is So Hot, It’s on the Marquis
Institutional investors have made it clear: They want to invest in venture funds that focus on energy efficiency, as we reported early this summer. Such big-dollar pressure is starting to affect how VCs market themselves, including these VC firms that recently announced new funds that mention “efficiency” in their investment mandates:
- Silverlake Kraftwerk: $650 million for “business model innovation to improve energy efficiency”
- SFJ Ventures: $90 million for “resource efficiency and sustainability”
- Terra Venture Partners: $50 million for “efficiency, sustainability and mobility”
- Huron River Ventures: $11 million for “energy efficient startups”
- BDC Venture Capital: $100 million for “scalable energy and efficiency”
- Scottish Equity Partners: $100 million for “energy efficiency, low-power lighting and smart-grid”