Like every other sector, the energy industry is increasingly relying on smart software and data tools. On Tuesday morning EnerNOC, which has built a business off of compensating utility customers for reducing electricity usage, announced that it has acquired a Canadian startup called Pulse Energy that has developed various types of energy analytics. The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Eight-year-old Pulse Energy is based in Vancouver and uses software to help utilities — like BC Hydro, British Gas, and Pacific Gas & Electric — engage with their commercial customers. Using Pulse Energy’s software, a utility can deliver detailed information and actionable feedback to commercial customers about their energy use and ways to be more energy efficient (ie save money). The company competed with other utility-focused energy software companies like Opower, C3 and FirstFuel.
EnerNOC was one of the first big “demand response” companies, which means that it’s in the business of rewarding utility customers for reducing their energy use during peak times (like a hot Summer late afternoon). EnerNOC has acquired a variety of startups over the years to help expand its businesses beyond demand response and more into utility-focused energy software. With these types of acquisitions EnerNOC can compete more directly with some of the younger data and software focused players like Opower.
The acquisition is yet another example of how industries that previously weren’t driven by digital technology, connectivity and data, are now having to develop and adopt these tools and essentially have to become tech companies. If software is eating the world, as investor Marc Andreessen is famously quoted as saying, then any company that wants to manage, move, cut or generate energy will have to be a software company, too.
Software and digital energy startups are usually the ones that are finding exits. Pulse Energy hadn’t raised traditional venture capital funding.