Top VC Recipients of 2009

When the final numbers come out next month, it’s likely that venture capitalists will have invested less money in 2009 than in any year since 1997. It’s currently tracking at just over $16 billion for U.S.-based companies, with the only silver lining — from a deal volume perspective — being that Q3 and Q4 figures were improvements over Q1 and Q2.

But the investment slowdown didn’t affect everyone. peHUB has compiled a list of the 10 companies that got the most VC love over the past year. It includes five cleantech companies (broadly-speaking), some social network-related plays, a biotech startup, a wireless networker and a private aviation company. Two of them have already filed for IPOs, while some of the others are considered prime candidates:


[slide title=”#1: Solyndra”]
Amount: $286 million
Location: Fremont, California
Business: Solar panels for commercial rooftops
Investors: Argonaut Ventures ($129m), Madrone Partners ($34m), U.S. Venture Partners ($27m), Rockport Capital Partners ($11m), CMEA Capital ($10m), Redpoint Ventures ($3m) and Virgin Green Fund ($3m). 

Notes: Solyndra filed for a $300 million IPO on December 18. In its filing, the company said that it had “approximately $970 million through equity financings.” That’s in addition to more than $500 million in government loan guarantees.

Recent Coverage: Solyndra files for an IPO, Solyndra breaks ground on second plant, Fast chat with Faysal Sohail, Solyndra keeps raising

[slide title=”#2: Zynga”]
Amount: $180 million
Location: San Francisco
Business: Social game publishing (FarmVille, etc.)
Investors: Digital Sky Technologies, Andreessen Horowitz, Tiger Global and Institutional Venture Partners.

Notes: Zynga has now raised around $240 million in total VC funding, including from past backers like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group and Avalon Ventures. It is considered a top IPO candidate, although 2011 seems more likely than 2010.

Recent Coverage: Zynga poised to exploit global keiretsu, Zynga raises $180 million, Watercooler talk, Zynga buys MyMiniLife, Investors eye top startups as IPO market awakensZynga’s Mark Pincus on when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em,

[slide title=”#3: Clovis Oncology”]
Amount: $146 million
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Business: Anti-cancer therapeutics
Investors: Domain Associates, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Versant Ventures, Aberdare Ventures, Abingworth, Frazier Healthcare Ventures and ProQuest Investments

Notes: In November, Clovis signed a $380 million partnership with Oslo-listed Clavis Pharma, for the further development of a Clavis drug candidate for pancreatic cancer.

Recent Coverage: VC investment still rises in Q2Clovis Oncology raises $146 million

[slide title=”#4: Twitter”]
Amount: $139 million (including approx. $4m in pro rata re-ups on Feb round, according to SEC filing)
Location: San Francisco
Business: Micro messaging platform
Investors: Benchmark Capital, Insight Venture Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, Morgan Stanley, Spark Capital, T Rowe Price and Union Square Ventures.

Notes: Twitter talk all year has focused on when the company might start making money, and Bloomberg just reported that it recently became profitable thanks to search deals with Google and Microsoft. The micro-messenger also is in beta testing on corporate accounts (goodbye CoTweets?) and other efforts that could lead to green.

Recent Coverage: Are “commoners” overvaluing Twitter, Twitter eyes acquisitions, @Biz says Twitter could go IPO, Insight Venture Partners talks Twitter, Is Twitter worth more than LinkedIn, VC fund size is about the change, not the dollars, Twitter raises $100 million, Why Twitter needs brand Tweehab, Silicon Valley smackdown over Twitter leak

[slide title=”#5: Tesla”]
Amount: $138 million
Location: San Carlos, California
Business: Electric vehicles
Investors: Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Daimler AG and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

Notes: Tesla raised its money this year over a couple of rounds, for more than $220 million in total VC funding. That doesn’t even include the DoE loans. No wonder it’s reportedly prepping for an IPO (shades of A123?). As for mileage, the Tesla Roadster recently set a record with 313 million on a single charge.

Recent Coverage: Tesla Motors prepping IPO, Tesla declares profitability, Tesla sells 10% to Daimler, Are Tesla and Fisker going after the right markets, Tesla charging up for new car debut

[slide title=”#6 (tied): Silver Spring Networks”]
Amount: $100 million
Location: Redwood City, California
Business: Smart-grid networking
Investors: Google Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Northgate Capital

Notes: Silver Spring has now raised over $260 million, and its tech reaches just over $2 million utility customers. It’s considered a hot IPO candidate (like many companies on this list), although we hear 2011 is much more likely than 2010.

Recent Coverage: Silver Spring raises $100 million, Bump on the road to smart grids, Silver Spring buys GreenBox TechInvestors eye top startups as IPO market awakens

[slide title=”#6 (tied): XOJet”]
Amount: $100 million (equity as part of $470m financing)
Location: San Carlos, California
Business: Private aviation
Investors: TPG Growth Equity, Aabar (Abu Dhabi)

Notes: This doesn’t read like a traditional VC deal, particularly given that the money is being used to acquire plans as opposed to building them (i.e., Adam Aircraft or, in the auto world, Tesla). Still, this is a company launched just a few years ago with equity funding, and really is a startup. Just not one that would be easily recognized on Sand Hill Road (plus, as of today, it’s being included in the MoneyTree data).

Recent Coverage: XOJet raises $470 million, Former U.S. Air CEO takes cockpit at XOJet

[slide title=”#8: Meru Networks”]
Amount: $87 million
Location: Sunnyvale, California
Business: Wireless infrastructure solutions
Investors: Clearstone Venture Partners, NeoCarta Ventures, BlueStream Ventures, The D. E. Shaw Group, Tenaya Capital, Evercore Partners and Monitor Ventures

Notes: Meru Networks filed for an $86.25 million IPO on December 18. It reported $31.8 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2009, with a net loss of $9.43 million. Its total venture capitalization is over $160 million.

Recent Coverage: Meru Networks Files for IPO, Meru raises $30 million, Return of the network

[slide title=”#9: SolFocus”]
Amount: $77 million
Location: Mountain View, California
Business: Solar concentrator photovoltaic systems
Investors: Demeter Partners, Advanced Equities, Apex Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, NGEN Partners and Yellowstone Ventures

Notes: The company has now raised nearly $180 million in total VC funding since 2006. Its most recent client win was with a Portuguese utility.

Recent Coverage: SolFocus expands round to $77 million, Crunching cleantech numbers on Earth Day, SolFocus adds $19 million

[slide title=”#10 (tied): Suniva”]
Amount: $75 million
Location: Norcross, Georgia
Business: Solar photovoltaic technology
Investors: Warburg Pincus, Apex Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, H.I.G. Ventures and Advanced Equities

Notes: Suniva has raised over $130 million in VC funding since its 2007 founding as Solarity. Its technology recently helped power India’s first large-scale solar project.

Recent Coverage: Suniva raises $75 million, Suniva signs deal with Solon

[slide title=”#10 (tied): Workday”]
Amount: $75 million
Location: Pleasanton, California
Business: Enterprise resource planning
Investors: New Enterprise Associates and Greylock Partners

Notes: WorkDay passed the 100 customer milestone in September, with 60 of those customers within the production space. The company has raised over $95 million in VC funding.

Recent Coverage: WorkDay raises whopping $75 million

[slide title=”Year’s top LBOs”]

View the top ten LBOs of 2009 here.

For more year-end coverage, go here.