Who wins out in Enphase’s IPO?

Now that solar inverter maker Enphase Energy has ended a solar IPO drought by making its public market debut on Friday, it’s time to look at how well the investors did, at least on paper.

SustainX Raises $14.4M for Air Energy Storage

A startup building the next-generation of compressed air energy storage, SustainX, has raised a new round of funding from investors including GE. The funds will help the company start construction on a 1 MW compressed air energy storage project with its first customer AES.

What Solar VCs Want

A few years ago, solar-loving venture capitalists were excited to talk about solar cell and panel makers with novel manufacturing processes that could make them industry giants. Today, they want to talk about software, services and materials that don’t require hefty capital investments.

Eka Raises Funds for Wireless Mesh Meter Tech

Given the state of the antiquated power grid, there are dozens of options that will help the grid get smarter. One of those tech choices is wireless mesh networking, which can intelligently route information to and from distant meters in an efficient manner and is an idea that’s been getting more attention from investors recently. Eka Systems, a startup that designs and makes wireless mesh network technology for utilities, said this morning that it has raised $18.5 million in a Series D round of funding; the round was led by Flybridge Capital Partners and included the Angeleno Group, RockPort Capital Partners, The Westly Group and Metropolitan Investment.

Eka, which is based in Germantown, Md., installs its wireless nodes under the glass of electricity meters in buildings and then uses its wireless mesh network to constantly transfer information on the real-time energy usage, per building, back to the utility company. The company says its system can help power companies better manage electricity grids, produce close to real-time readouts of usage, detect outages quickly and let building managers figure out the exact energy usage of specific sections of a building.

This is the 8-year-old company’s fourth round of funding, so all in all, Eka has raised around $40 million, according to the Biz Journal; the company also reportedly hopes that this will be its last funding round before it starts generating profits.

Eka CEO Prakash Chakravarthi told us last July that his company’s wireless networking technology is different from competitors because it automates the entire process of managing a large network of meters. Eka competes with companies like Trilliant and Elster, but Chakravarthi says those companies offer closer to a managed network, similar to ISP’s compared to the Internet. Chakravarthi says that that setup isn’t the most efficient way to run wireless smart meter technology.

Build a Mashup, Win $3500

ScreenshotDaylife is a news aggregation site that I find more useful than Google News for exploring the current hot news: it does a good job of finding top stories and it’s easy to hop from one related story to another, or to see related topics, photos, and quotes. But web workers who can write code and have a bit of spare time might appreciate it for another reason: the chance to win $3500 by entering their Daylife Developer Challenge.

In addition to presenting the news on their own site, Daylife makes available a rich REST API for other sites to mine the same sources. For the contest, they’re looking for people to use that API to build and deploy sites. On July 25, they’ll pick the winner (as well as two $750 runners-up). For more details on the API and contest, visit the Daylife Cookbook site.

RockPort Closes $450M Fund for Cleantech Exits

RockPort Capital Partners has closed its third venture capital fund, which they claim has commitments of more than $450 million, making it their largest fund yet and one of the largest cleantech funds ever. It will be aimed at later-stage opportunities, specifically startups looking to exit.

Founding partner Wilber James tells Earth2Tech that RockPort will invest in about 25 companies from this fund, making larger individual investments with the intention of owning more of their portfolio companies. Previously, RockPort had invested in about 40 cleantech companies from two earlier funds and currently has nearly $850 million under management.

Part of a new strategy will see RockPort taking greater equity in the companies they invest in, James says. “This fund is a recognition that it’s going to take more money. It’s a recognition we want to own more of the companies. And it’s also a recognition that you can put more money to work in later-stage opportunities,” James says. It’s one thing to fund a laboratory-level startup, or even a pilot-phase project, he explains, but scaling up to a commercial plant, especially in the biofuel and electric car spaces, is something else entirely. Indeed, the industry has seen very few cleantech exits — perhaps they just need more funding at that crucial later stage.
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Qipit Enables Easy Mobile Phone Scanning

Qipit logoHave you ever been in a meeting involving collaboration around a whiteboard, sketched up brilliant ideas or diagrams on the whiteboard, only to have to erase it at the end?  Or perhaps you’ve wanted to permanently preserve a hand-written note or quickly scan a printed document, without a scanner?  Qipit aims to give those with either a digital camera or mobile phone featuring a mobile scanner a quick option for document scanning and retention.

Qipit works by taking the photo on either your camera or camera phone and loading it into their web service.  The image file can be sent to Qipit as either a multimedia message (MMS), mobile email, attached to an email from your PC, or loaded into their service using their website.  When Qipit receives the file, they quickly turn it into either a jpeg or Adobe Acrobat PDF file.

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jkOnTheRun video- how we have live blogged the CES 2008

One of the newest things we’ve tried in covering the CES 2008 in Las Vegas this year has been live blogging by posting photos of the most interesting gadgets we’ve encountered directly from the exhibitor’s booth.  This has worked extremely well and has blown away everyone who has seen us do this on the show floor.  We literally post to the site within 10 seconds of snapping a photo in the booth and so many people have been asking how we’ve done this that I’ve recorded an 8 minute video showing exactly how this has been done.  Enjoy the video!


Nokia N95 software updated: more runtime, updated maps, N-Gage preview

Logo_nokia_115_40_1Nokia’s Europe site for the N95 is showing an update for the multi-media handheld computer, which brings some welcome updates for the flagship device. It’s version 20.0.015 if you’re keeping track and here’s a run-down on what inside the chewy center:

…battery, stability & performance improvements enabling you to run faster and longer – giving you up to three more hours of music (up to 30% increase, from 9h to 12h of music playback). This release also includes a new version of Nokia Maps which provides faster positioning, faster Map Loader, and free 3-day navigation. Free N-Gage demo games are included and other games are available via Download! With the Nokia Music Store now live in the United Kingdom, users can enjoy the convenience of instant over-the-air downloads, regardless of where they are.

Mo’ better battery life is always a plus in my book, so that alone might make the upgrade worthwhile. There also appear to be some menu optimizations supported by, but not included in the software file. Once you’ve upgraded and restored data, grab this file for the menu bits.