2. ABB (1883)
Four years ago, ABB didn’t come up much in conversations in Silicon Valley. Now, the Swiss-Swedish equipment manufacturer and grid builder represents one of the best exit paths for startups in efficiency and grid equipment.
Over the past year, ABB has bought electric motor maker Baldor Electric for $4.2 billion, virtual power plant developer Ventyx for $1 billion, and Insert Key Solutions, which specializes in asset management software. And Ventyx, an independent ABB subsidiary, recently bought Obvient. The VC group has also plunked money into companies like car charger Ecotality. (Note: Andy Tang at ABB's VC arm is not the same Andy Tang who is associated with PG&E, but they do get confused for one another frequently, says Tang of PG&E.)
Despite the company's European heritage, it's also becoming one of the larger green employers in the U.S. All of those acquisitions listed above are companies based in the U.S. ABB this month broke ground on a high voltage cable factory in North Carolina. The $90 million factory will employ more than 100.
With the acquisition race on in smart grid, expect to see the name continue to pop up.