Greentech IPO fever is in the air.
PE Hub hinted at this Bloom Energy news last week and confirmed it today: Fuel cell maker Bloom Energy is looking to raise an additional $50 million. And they are telling prospective investors that this will be their last chance to buy in before an IPO.
According to PE Hub, existing shareholder Northgate Capital is involved, perhaps as an investor as well as a placement agent.
The non-profitable Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFCs) startup has shipped enough units to be considered in pilot production and yet according to a source in the article, "They talk about $20 billion as a floor for the post-IPO valuation -- which I hear is slated for late next year --with $40 billion being within the realm of possibility."
This type of breathless hype-mongering is typical when funding entities like Advanced Equities are involved. Northgate Capital has been prone to, let's say, overenthusiastic boosterism as well.
Keep in mind that Bloom Energy depends on natural gas for fuel. And natural gas, while relatively cheap now, is a commodity subject to fluctuating prices. Alex Taussig, a VC at Highland Capital, recently tweeted that he wants to know the price per kilowatt-hour. That info has not yet been revealed.
Fuel cell manufacturer IdaTech's CEO Hal Koyama said in a recent Greentech Media article that Bloom is essentially competing against the grid. Competing against the grid is a difficult value proposition according to Koyama: the current system is "reliable and huge and cheap." Since the Bloom boxes are fueled by natural gas, Koyama asks, "Who manages the risk hedging the natural gas cost? If natural gas cost goes up, the value proposition goes away. The value proposition is rather fragile."
We've covered Bloom Energy extensively in the past:
- Bloom Energy revealed on 60 Minutes, featuring our own Michael Kanellos
- Read this perspective piece from Rich Hilt, welcoming Bloom to the energy business.
- Bloom is relying on financing from the questionable Advanced Equities.
- Here's a profile of K.R. Sridhar, Bloom's CEO
- Kanellos reporting from the Bloom unveiling at Ebay in February
And one last piece of Bloom news: Chattanooga, Tennessee just inaugurated their first Bloom Box, a 100-kW energy "server" that will provide 24/7 power to an EPB building. EPB is an electric utility and a communications company, as well as the site of Bloom's first field trial, begun in 2006.