A survey of the fifteen U.S.-based cleantech companies that have raised the largest aggregate venture funding over the last five years shows that only one – the still highly unprofitable Tesla Motors – has produced something that could be considered a venture-scale exit. The rest of the list includes two that have filed for bankruptcy, one that went public but is valued at less than the amount VCs invested, two that withdrew planned offerings and three with founding CEOs that recently departed.
Many of the names are familiar ones, starting with the heavily funded company, Solyndra, which raised a billion dollars from venture investors. Another solar company on the list, Loveland, Colorado-based thin film module developer Abound Solar, filed for bankruptcy in June.
Others that are still in business face some well-publicized travails. Most recently, Better Place, which provides battery switching service and infrastructure for electric cars, ousted its high profile founder and CEO, Shai Agassi, in October. The company, which is the second most heavily-funded on the list with $750 million in venture capital, according to Thomson Reuters, is reportedly in the midst of layoffs. The third mostly heavily funded company, solar thermal technology developer BrightSource Energy, which raised $573 million, withdrew a planned public offering earlier this year, citing market conditions.
Still, it bears noting that the vast majority of companies on the list remain in business. Other prominent names include Livermore, Calif.-based Bridgelux, a LED lighting technology provider, and Boston-Power, a maker of lithium ion batteries that recently moved the bulk of its operations to China to capitalize on what executives see as a more receptive market for electric vehicles.
VCJ subscribers can go here to see a detailed list of the most heavily funded cleantech companies, including data about investors, business models and current status.
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