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Recent deals

Rob Day: May 28, 2009, 10:34 AM

Here are reported cleantech venture deals from the past few weeks, showing that things are still a bit slow but the money is starting to flow into a more diversified mix of sectors:

  • GreenRoad, a vendor of fleet driver safety and fuel efficiency monitors, has raised $15mm in "growth funding", led by DAG Ventures and including return investors Benchmark Capital, Virgin Green Fund, Amadeus Capital Partners and Balderton Capital.
  • OutSmart Power Systems, a developer of commercial building energy efficiency systems, has announced a $2mm seed round from Bainco, Clean Energy Venture Group, and Manifold Products.

Memorial Day and clean energy

Rob Day: May 26, 2009, 10:57 PM

For all US based readers, welcome back from the Memorial Day weekend.  It's not just a 3-day weekend, folks.  It's a day of remembrance and thankfulness, first and foremost. 

Insofar as cleantech issues impact that, Ian writes passionately about the link between supporting clean energy, supporting energy independence, and supporting our troops.  I would add that it's also important to recognize the role that the US military has played in supporting the development of clean technologies.  The military needs renewable distributed generation technologies badly.  They have been major supporters of technology developments in everything from advanced motor design to sensors to biofuels to...

What capital efficiency?

Rob Day: May 21, 2009, 11:08 PM

Had the pleasure of moderating a very interesting panel at Boston University today on smart grid and energy efficiency, including representatives from the State of Massachusetts, NSTAR, GE, BU, and Millennial Net.  Lots of optimism about ongoing pilots and smart grid roll-outs.

And of course, here in this column we've talked quite a lot recently about how the cleantech VC community seems to be much more vocal about targeting capital-efficient energy efficiency and smart grid investments these days.

Except that I took a look at the details in the Q1 2009 Cleantech Venture Monitor (another great job by Cleantech Group's Brian Fan and colleagues), and there's no evidence yet of such a...

The next wave of cleantech investing:  Getting beyond energytech

Rob Day: May 20, 2009, 11:19 AM

We had a great REBN-Boston event last night at the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry.  John Warner spoke about his journey into the field of green chemistry, and about the need for green principles to be integrated into chemistry methodologies -- not just for health and environmental reasons, but for profitability reasons as well. 

You can read some of Warner's thinking on the subject in an old interview here.  For example, Warner mentioned last night that DuPont spends $1B per year on research and development -- and $1B per year on regulatory compliance related to their products and processes.  The problem, in Warner's view, is that chemists are never trained in areas like...

The “Next Big Thing” in cleantech investing could be really… well, big.

Rob Day: May 18, 2009, 9:17 PM

With the economic downturn that hit in full force last fall, many cleantech VCs' minds made a pretty big shift away from capital-intensive solar, EV and biofuels investments, and (to the extent that checks were still being written) toward relatively more capital-efficient smart grid and energy efficiency bets. 

Regular readers of this column will know that I've been beating the drum for these kinds of investments for a while, for market and investment model reasons.  But it's sure true that they look that much more attractive in an environment where exits are a long way off and LPs aren't putting capital into new funds -- capital-efficiency looks better when capital is scarce,...

There’s more bad news to come

Rob Day: May 14, 2009, 2:16 PM

With the news today that GreenFuel is shutting its doors, it's a good reminder that there is a lot of bad news yet to be seen in cleantech venture capital. 

A lot of high-profile startups have high cash burn and unclear follow-on financing prospects, because they raised big money at big valuations in the past and since then the world has changed and fewer big money / big valuation deals are getting done.  Many of those companies have over the past few months been put into a slow-down mode and maybe have received bridge financings and the like.  All of which helps them stick around, but also doesn't completely address their growth needs, in fact it might hinder their ability to grow...

Powerit and other deal updates

Rob Day: May 5, 2009, 10:19 PM

It's always fun to see how the mainstream journalists over-react to the latest short-term numbers, and how their editors feel compelled to over-dramatize every headline.  Thus last week we saw an article in the NYT with the headline "Clean Tech's Future Dims as Financing Drops Off."  Taking the very worst of the Q1 numbers we discussed a while back, the article literally asks:  "Has the green bubble burst?"  And paints a picture of cleantech funding drying up in the aftermath of a "hype cycle" and entrepreneurs being left out to dry.

Huh?

As we've discussed, the quarterly numbers are significantly down, but at a rate pretty comparable to what happened to venture capital overall.  The...