Slideshow: Smart Grid, Smart Play?

Smart grid investing isn’t going away, and it’s not even taking a break. If anything, it’s going to pick up, just in smaller dollar volumes.

A recent sad-face report from Mercom Capital Group declared the state of investing in the nascent space “anemic,” but that’s only after some startups that chowed down on late-stage rounds from 2008 to 2010 were unloaded in multi billion dollar deals to strategic acquirers, such as Toshiba and Siemens. PeHUB tracked some of the last 12 months’ worth of deals, both huge and wee—some of which could turn into mega-returns for VCs if they can find a buyer.


[slide title=”iControl Networks”]

iControl Networks, the California-based home monitoring company that expanded into the energy control space, had a busy 2011. The company packed on a big new round and took on a new CEO, but with approximately $90 million on the table, VCs including Charles River Ventures, Cisco, Comcast Ventures, Intel Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers iFund, Rogers Communications and Tyco International must be looking toward the exits.

[slide title=”SmartSynch”]

SmartSynch was equally busy last year. The company charted a course to China and Silicon Valley and took on more than $20 million in new capital, to boot. SmartSynch has boldface backers, including Kinetic Ventures; JP Morgan; Endeavor Capital Management; Siemens Venture Capital; Lime Rock Partners; Battelle Ventures; Innovation Valley Partners.

[slide title=”GridPoint”]

In the well-funded smart grid space, GridPoint’s backing would make even Mark Cuban blush. The company has packed on about a quarter-billion dollars, but along the way its M&A strategy has also been building up, hopefully to a big payoff for high-flying investors including Goldman Sachs, Perella Weinberg, Altria Group and Skypoint Capital.

[slide title=”Silver Spring Networks”]

Speaking of well-funded companies, another member of the $200M+ club, Silver Spring Networks, is quickly becoming the poster child for the smart grid and home energy management business as it prepares to go public. However, taking on a listing exposes the company to the harsh realities of public markets. Let’s see how long Foundation Capital and Kleiner Perkins hang in there after the lockup expires.

[slide title=” JouleX”]

JouleX is one of the newer startups to the scene in the smart grid and home energy management space, but with investors like Intel Capital, look for the Georgia-based startup to keep developing verticals. Having just taken on $17 million in the capital-intensive space, VCs can look for future investing opportunities here.

[slide title=” CURRENT”]

Another recipient of the almighty Goldman dollar, CURRENT, a Maryland-based smart grid developer, has $13 million with which to work. The startup counts Landis+Gyr, the smart meter company that was bought for $2.3 billion, among its partners. So things are looking bright.

[slide title=” Clean Urban Energy”]

There are still early stage plays out there. Clean Urban Energy, the Chicago-based maker of energy storage and smart grid performance optimization technology, bagged $7 million in its Series A from investors including Battery Ventures and Rho Ventures.

[slide title=”PlotWatt”]

Right down to the smallest deal, VCs are eager to make smart grid bets. Felicis Ventures backed PlotWatt, the North Carolina-based smart grid company, when it raised $1 million last summer.

[slide title=”Payday!”]

Take a look at some of the eye-popping exits that have been made recently, it’s no wonder VCs keep piling cash into smart grid startups. Landis+Gyr, the international power meter company, was snapped up for $2.3 billion by Toshiba and eMeter was acquired for terms undisclosed. Cleantech VCs can be expected to keep piling their bets up on the smart grid.