Start a company, pick a name and make it big -- that's the entrepreneurial dream.
But success more often comes in the form of acquisition, at which point the company's identity can vanish.
That has happened several times already this year, as recent corporate acquisitions proceed with their integrations.
Changing the name and its various manifestations -- building signs, business cards, company swag -- carries with it a sense of loss.
"There’s nostalgia with those things, and there’s a lot of history and good times," said Mark Triplett, COO at storage developer Green Charge, which recently became Engie Storage.
But the brand evolution also promises access to greater resources and name recognition. Engie is a multinational energy company, like Enel, which bought storage developer Demand Energy last year.
"These were storage companies that had success, but in order to scale, a multinational brand is a huge benefit," said Brett Simon, energy storage analyst at GTM Research.
Here's a running guide to the cleantech names you won't be seeing around any more.
Engie's triple play
The French energy giant has made big moves into the U.S. cleantech space and recently announced a rebrand.
Energy efficiency company OpTerra has become Engie Services U.S.*; energy bill management firm Ecova became Engie Insight; and Green Charge became Engie Storage.
"The idea is to unify the understanding of the market: when they’re talking to an Engie company, it’s part of a deeper vision," Mathias Lelievre, CEO of Engie Insight, told GTM. "Our job is to help them figure out how they can lower their impact on the environment while striving and growing."
Engie's in-house competencies have expanded to full-stack energy and sustainability services for large corporate clients, spanning solar, storage, energy efficiency, bill management, retail choice and energy trading.
Evidently unsatisfied with its acquisitions thus far, Engie this week bought SoCore, a commercial solar developer, from Edison International. This move gives Engie a bigger commercial solar pipeline and engineering, procurement and construction capabilities outside California. No word yet on how long the SoCore name will survive.
For Green Charge, the name change has material implications for how it does business.
Unlike independent C&I storage companies Stem and AMS, Engie Storage enjoys the explicit backing of a massive global energy company with billions in annual revenues.
"Potential customers will be more inclined to work with a company bearing the Engie brand, which will be understood to have the backing of a trusted energy company with a large balance sheet," said Simon.
Since the acquisition, Green Charge has ventured into larger projects, with its first utility-scale deployment heading to Holyoke, Massachusetts. The startup just didn't have the balance sheet or the resources to chase those deals before.
"It’s still a super small market," Triplett said. "There's still a lot of education to do and a lot of customers who don’t know the space, let alone who the players are."
Engie's international scope opens up the possibility of overseas storage development as well. And bulk procurement through the Engie brand means the storage team can access savings by procuring materials at higher volume.
The scrappy New York area storage developers at Demand Energy will move away from that identity.
The company has rolled into EnerNOC, the demand response and energy service provider that Enel also acquired last year for $250 million. Demand Energy and EnerNOC's demand response business now operate as EnerNOC Flexibility Solutions.
This branding change is just an interim situation, however. In a few months, EnerNOC itself will join Enel X, the global energy company's new business designed to tackle future grid services, including electric mobility, storage-assisted energy optimization and distributed generation.
Like Engie, Enel has decided that storage alone isn't as useful as storage in combination with other energy services -- in this case, EnerNOC's demand-side management business.
More than solar
Those who track the shifting acronyms of energy industry groups, take note: The California Solar Energy Industries Association has changed. It's now the California Solar and Storage Association. CALSEIA is out, CALSSA is in.
That loss of a single syllable says something about the increasing presence of energy storage within California's solar industry. This is one of the few places in the U.S. where residential storage has started to gain traction, thanks to high electricity prices and that friendly Self-Generation Incentive Program.
The state is home to Tesla, Sunrun, Sonnen and pretty much everyone else working to popularize residential storage. And it has pioneered large-scale storage, which will become even more valuable as solar penetration increases and curtailment rates rise. The old silos of solar and storage no longer make much sense here.
GTM —> WMP&R
In the interest of completeness, we can't overlook changes afoot within the fence of Greentech Media.
The research team, along with the wind analysts at MAKE, will spend this year transitioning into a combined Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables brand. The goal is to combine WoodMac's power markets expertise with MAKE's wind knowledge and GTM Research's solar, storage and grid edge capabilities, to provide a holistic understanding of the evolving energy system.
The GTM brand will persist for news and events, so there's no need to change your favorite bookmarked URL.*Engie requested that we clarify the new name as Engie Services U.S., to distinguish it from the similarly named Engie Services operating in Canada.