Accel Partners is sticking to what it describes as a targeted approach to cleantech investing. The firm is set to unveil on Tuesday its lead role in a $6.7 million round for Vigilent along with a vow to continue deal making.
Expect a steady pace of cleantech investing from Accel, but in segments of the market with a “specific profile,” says Partner Richard Wong. That profile includes IT-dependent and services businesses that dovetail the firm’s understanding of telecom and data-center technologies. It also means a software focus, and frequently a consumer- and enterprise-facing business model.
The Vigilent round, which includes investments from angels Gaurav Garg and Peter Wagner, a former Accel partner, will allow the company to press ahead with product development and expand abroad, says CEO Mark Housley. The El Cerrito, Calif., company has a technology that lowers energy costs at data centers and boasts it can save a data center 25% of its energy load as it turns off air conditioners when they are not needed or when another air conditioner runs more efficiently.
“We’re in the intersection of cleantech and big data,” says Housley, who adds that about 30 customers use the product.
Vigilent was profitable last year, and the new money is its first institutional round. It previously raised angel money.
Accel likes to plug its investments in SunRun and Opower as examples of its cleantech focus. The firm led an $18 million round for home solar installer SunRun in 2009 that was joined by Foundation Capital. Smart grid software developer Opower raised $50 million in November 2010 from Accel, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates.
At Accel, “we have felt we understand software, optimization technology, (and) big data well … and that knowledge base could be well applied to the energy space,” says Wong. “We’ve been spending a lot of time looking at ‘big data’ optimization technologies up and down the stack, and we think of Vigilent as an example of a ‘big data’ application.”