Westly: We’ll Have a Dozen Cleantech IPOs

There are cleantech bulls. And then there is Steve Westly.

The former eBay marketing director and onetime California state controller, who currently runs Silicon Valley venture firm The Westly Group, is predicting that the moribund market for new public offerings is about to wake up. In the next 12 months, Westly told participants today at VCJ’s Financing the Cleantech Vision conference, there will be a dozen clean technology IPOs. Some of them, he predicted, will be blockbusters.

It’s a remarkably optimistic outlook, given that so far this year there have been only been 13 U.S. IPOs priced in any industry – down from 35 during the same period last year, which was also a subdued period for new offerings. On the new filings front, the situation compares even more poorly – with just 12 IPOs filed this year, down 89% from last year, according to Renaissance Capital.

Still, there’s great desire amid VCs for a homerun cleantech IPO – something perhaps to rival the Netscape IPO, which ushered in the era of fast Internet riches.

Who’s on the short list? Westly mentioned Silver Spring Networks –the Silicon Valley-based developer of smart grid technology that has raised $168 million in venture funding – as a likely candidate. Silver Spring has certainly proven it can generate buzz, as it was a top pick of a few conference-goers asked to name a likely cleantech IPO hit.

Another favorite pick was Solyndra, the Fremont, Calif.-based developer of photovoltaic systems for commercial rooftops that has raised $226 million in venture funding to date. Another that’s expected to debut sooner is litiium ion battery maker A123 Systems, which is already in registration and recently filed an amended prospectus.

Magma Energy could also be a contender, though it’s making its debut in Canada. The Vancouver geothermal company, according to news sources, filed a preliminary prospectus today and is looking to raise C$50 million or more in an offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange.