Serious Energy: Spinning off half the triple windows

Serious Energy (formerly Serious Materials) has had well-publicized difficulties in the last year.

Its attempt to reinvent itself by expanding from building materials (drywall and then windows) into monitoring software ran awry and needed serious fixing.

The latest reorganization move: In October, Serious spun out half of its windows product line, the triple-layer window operation it had acquired by buying Alpen Energy Group. Ironically, windows had provided one of the best moments in the company’s history, the re-glazing of the Empire State Building. The new operation will be named Alpen High Performance Products. According to Environmental Building News, a number of original Alpen executives and employees are remaining or returning, including Alpen founder Robert Clarke and CEO Brad Begin. Alpen had been a highly regarded, successful, ultra-efficiency manufacturer since 1981. Industry observers hope that the company will resume its prior path.

Serious Energy now has one less unrelated technology to pull through the construction recession. Curiously, the company is retaining an additional building windows product, along with the drywall and monitoring software businesses. Some of the messiness in simplifying the company appears to be a legacy strategy of buying a grab bag of bankrupt building materials factories.

Enertiv: Hedge fund data mining tactics for disaggregating your building’s energy loads?   

Enertiv, a New York City startup, replied to our recent profile of Verdigris and its application of high-rate sampling to the building-energy-monitor problem of disaggregation.

Enertiv currently markets a high-rate (one-third of a second) hardware sensor suite coupled with a conventional software dashboard. According to founder Connell McGill, the company has begun development of a high-rate disaggregation algorithm, with a twist: “Leveraging our proximity to Wall Street, we have several hedge fund software developers applying data decomposition methods from financial trading.”

Founded in 2011, Enertiv is similar in size to Verdigris. The company has raised $600,000 of angel and founder funding. The firm lists a number of revenue installations for their existing product generation, including New Haven and Stamford (Connecticut) Public Schools, AFB Management, and certain YMCA and Quiznos locations.

Hara: Leaner and tighter after a heavyweight beginning

Hara, the San Mateo, California-based energy monitoring software startup, has attracted several waves of attention. The firm pulled in over $45 million from a gold-plated lineup of investors including KPCB, Itochu, Nth Power, and GE. Ray Lane (of KPCB and Hewlett-Packard) is Chairman. The Hara website lists over 50 customers, including Harvard University, Hewlett-Packard, Safeway, and the city of Las Vegas.

However, according to Marketing Director Melissa Matlins, “We have reacted to tightened conditions in our industry in the last year, and feel that we have achieved a leaner, more effective operation.” New products continue to come out, especially the smartened UtilitySync. She adds, “Today we are very focused on an easy, affordable software solution.” 

Head count has fallen from 55 to 35, according to Matlins.  A storm signal here?  Privately held Hara does not disclose operating results. The firm just announced a new CEO.