It’s been a busy, ummm interesting year. We’ve tracked profits to founders and investors of $14 Billion in major global IPOs on US exchanges and $9 Billion in major global M&A exits from venture backed cleantech companies in the last 7-10 years. Money is being made. A lot of money. But wow, not where you’d imagine it.
- Recurrent Energy, bought by Sharp Solar for $305 mm, now on the block by Sharp Solar for $321 mm. Can we say, what we have here gentlemen, is a failure to integrate? This was one of the best exits in the sector.
- Solyndra Sues Chinese solar companies for anti-trust, blaming in part their subsidized loans???????? Did the lawyers miss the whole Solyndra DOE Loan Guarantee part? It kind of made the papers.
- A123, announced bought / bailed out by Chinese manufacturer a month ago, now going chapter bankruptcy and debtor in possession from virtually the only US lithium ion battery competitor Johnson Controls?
- MiaSole, one of the original thin film companies, 9 figure valuation and a $55 mm raise not too long ago (measure in months), cumulative c $400 million in the deal, sold for $30 mm to Chinese Hanergy just a few months later. (Not that this wasn’t called over and over again by industry analysts.)
- Solar City files for IPO, finally!
My call for the 5 highest risk mega stunners yet to come:
- Better Place – Ummmmmmmmmm. Sorry it makes me cringe to even discuss. Just think through a breakeven analysis on this one.
- Solar City – a terrifically neat company, and one that has never had a challenge driving revenues, margin, on the other hand . . .
- BrightSource – see our earlier blog
- Kior – again, see our prior comments. Refining is hard.
- Tesla – Currently carrying the day in cleantech exit returns, I’m just really really really struggling to see the combination or sales growth, ontime deliveries, and margins here needed to justify valuation.
I’m not denigrating the investors or teams who made these bets. Our thesis has been in cleantech, the business is there, but risk is getting mispriced on a grand scale, and the ante up to play the game is huge.