Hara (it means "green" in Hindi) keeps landing big customers for its environmental and energy management software. Today's win is Hasbro, the world's number-two toy maker -- a profitable company from its sales of Monopoly board games and Nerf weaponry. The Hara customer list is impressive; it includes Coca-Cola, Apple, Brocade, and Diebold, Safeway and News Corporation, as well as the California cities of Palo Alto and San Jose (the Palo Alto case study is here). The Silicon Valley city expects to save millions of dollars in electricity and gas costs.
So what is it that Hara does again? The metaphor that Michel Gelobter, the CGO, always returns to is "organizational metabolism." It's not just carbon that Hara tracks, but everything that goes into a company, like water and energy, and everything that comes out, like carbon and waste. The executive suite is becoming increasingly aware of their energy footprint and wants actionable data to lower that footprint, not for the sake of green PR but for sheer business sense -- to save money and to gain a competitive advantage.
Hara's competitors include the usual suspects -- the big guys like CA and SAP, and startups like ENXSuite (formerly known as Carbonetworks) and C3. The company, though, has done surprisingly well in lining up a number of high-profile customers in a short period of time. You don't see a lot of customer wins touted by SAP. The company got into the market in 2009 by buying Clear Standards, which lagged behind others at the time.
ENXSuite has also seemingly followed Hara's strategy and begun to emphasize corporate resource consumption more than carbon accounting, which used to be the main path forward. It also snagged Beatriz Infante to become the new CEO. Like Chatterjee, Infante spent years in the enterprise software business. You want per-seat licensing dynamics? These firms are the ones to call.
But the real competition, according to Amit Chatterjee, Hara's CEO, is Excel. You read that right. Corporate energy data is typically tracked by some beleaguered Chief Sustainability Officer jockeying an ungainly 80-megabyte Excel spreadsheet with 25 tabs. It's Hara's job to get that data out of those hands and into corporate memory. Michael Kanellos has covered the company before and in the Kanellos world view, Hara is a prime candidate for acquisition.
In Kanellos' words, "Oracle, IBM and SAP have already entered the field and will likely try to buy growing startups. But, unlike solar or transportation or even smart grid, the capital requirements for software startups are low and history shows that once-small upstarts -- Google, Salesforce -- can survive their formative years. In other words, expect to see old names, but don't be surprised by the emergence of new ones."
On the subject of capital intensity -- while we cover the solar startups that spend several hundred million dollars only to end up with a big factory and less-than-competitive products -- Hara has taken $20 million from VCs Kleiner Perkins, Jafco and Nth Power and won enormous pieces of the market. With only 65 employees, Hara won 30 of the 50 biggest deals in this space in 2009 and claims a 30 percent global and 50 percent U.S. market share.
The U.S. government is a potential customer, as well. Hara can help governments make decisions on the payback of traditional power plants versus renewable sources.
The CEO sees Hara "as a bridge between the Fortune 5000 and alternative energy technologies."