The long-awaited IPO of Silver Spring Networks is here. On Thursday, the company filed to go public to raise $150 million.
The company, which provides meters, mesh radio networks, and software for end-to-end smart grid projects, has been a popular choice for utilities in the U.S, such as Baltimore Gas & Electric, Pacific Gas & Electric and Florida Power & Light Company. Silver Spring reports that it has won contracts for more than 17 million devices.
Silver Spring saw phenomenal growth in the last few years, with total revenue of $58,000 in 2008, followed by $3.3 million in 2009 and then $70.2 million in 2010. The first quarter of 2011, revenue was $46.7 million. The company is operating at a loss -- it reported a net loss of $148 million for 2010 -- although the first quarter of 2011 saw its lowest margin of loss, with costs running just $1.3 million over net revenue.
In the filing, the Redwood City Calif.-based company said it anticipates continued losses and negative operating cash flow for the foreseeable future, and because its quarterly results are unpredictable, it may fail to meet the expectations of Wall Street.
The sharp increase in revenue is due largely to utilities spending stimulus funds. Although Silver Spring did not point to the end of stimulus dollars, it also noted that if the market develops slower than expected, it could be another risk factor. But for now, a lot of the funds are still yet to be spent, even though they are allocated, which is another factor that could hurt Silver Spring if they are delayed through 2011.
“In 2010, the rate of smart grid adoption slowed due to uncertainty surrounding the timing and tax treatment of U.S. government stimulus funding, negative publicity and consumer opposition, and regulatory investigations. These uncertainties caused many potential utility customers that had been considering smart grid programs in the United States to further evaluate their smart grid initiatives and delay their procurement processes,” the company said in the filing. “We expect the effect of the delay in awards caused by these factors to result in lower billings in 2011 compared to 2010. To date in 2011, we have seen an increase in smart grid-related requests for proposals and believe many utilities will move forward with their smart grid initiatives.”
Although 2011 may be a slow year, utilities are still moving forward with smart grid plans, and if the White House’s smart grid policy framework actually becomes policy, there will be many more utilities looking for a whole lot more smart meters. And of course, there’s always China -- and Silver Spring notes that international expansion is among its ambitions.
These days, Silver Spring is not just about metering and the communications that come with it. The company has delved into demand response, home energy management and plans to get into electric vehicle charging.
If the IPO goes through, Foundation Capital, with 41.5 percent of Silver Spring’s stock, could have a win. Other investors include Kleiner Perkins and Google Ventures. The company has raised $271 million since it was founded in 2002. The initial IPO plan, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, did not include share prices.