Why Internet companies are abandoning home energy plans

Throughout 2009 and 2010, Internet companies like Microsoft, Google and even router giant Cisco launched experimental software and hardware to help building managers and home owners monitor and control their energy consumption. But now these firms are abandoning those plans. Why?

Who wins in the Silver Spring IPO?: Foundation Capital

Silver Spring Networks filed for a potentially $150 million IPO this week, but the group that stands to gain in the short term is Silver Spring’s stead fast venture backer Foundation Capital. Foundation Capital owned 41.5 percent of shares before the offering.

10 Cleantech IPO Picks for 2011

This year saw some improvements in public market investors’ appetite for cleantech companies, but not enough to make it a good year. As always, the hopes are that 2011 will prove a better one. Check out our picks of top 10 IPO candidates.

CintaNotes: A Fast, Free Windows Note-taking App

Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of the note-taking combo of Notational Velocity on my Mac and Simplenote on my iPhone. But if you’re a Windows user, you should check out CintaNotes, which provides a similarly fast, lightweight access-anywhere note-taking experience for the PC.

ComEd Signs Up Silver Spring, Tendril for Smart Grid Pilot

What will convince people to actually reduce their home energy consumption and engage with new smart meters that are being rolled out? The folks leading ComEd, including the Chicago utility’s President and COO Anne Pramaggiore, want to know. At the Cleantech Investor Summit on Wednesday Pramaggiore said that in April ComEd would be starting a pilot project with 8,000 customers that would be getting four different pricing structures and various technology options by which to monitor and manage their energy consumption. Silver Spring Networks will be providing the network infrastructure and Tendril will be supplying its home energy dashboards for the pilot, which Pramaggiore called “unique in the country.”

ComEd already started installing its planned 130,000 smart meters in nine towns in Northern Illinois starting in November 2009. During the upcoming pilot, customers will be offered different pricing structures with off-peak pricing options to see what price at what time of day results in the biggest drop in energy consumption. In addition ComEd will be offering customers different ways to access to their energy consumption, like through the web, or through an in-home energy display. In the third quarter of this year Pramaggiore says she thinks ComEd will start collecting data from the project.
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Smart Grid Stimulus Funding Revealed!

powergridgeneric7UPDATED As we wrote on Monday, Tuesday is the day of reckoning for the smart grid biz. The Department of Energy this morning has announced the recipients of the $3.4 billion in stimulus grants for 100 smart grid projects (25 large and 75 small) that are meant create “tens of thousands of jobs,” and lead to the rollout of 18 million smart meters, 1 million in-home energy management displays, and 170,000 smart thermostats, as well as advanced transformers and load management devices.

Update: The DOE has just released the full list of awards (PDF download), and here’s our take on the Winners and Losers of the smart grid stimulus funds.
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Smart Grid Bubble? Heck No. Home Energy Management Bubble? Yep

smartgridgeneralimageCNET’s Martin LaMonica raised the interesting question last week: Is there an investment bubble building around the smart grid? He cites the opinions of several investors worried about too much money being invested by venture capitalists, corporations like Cisco (s CSCO) and IBM (s IBM), and even governments. From my perspective,, there is one clear area of the smart grid that is seeing too much investment from venture capitalists, specifically — home energy management tools — but much of the smart grid investments coming from IT firms and the federal government just represent the first phase of funds that will help build a potentially huge market. At this point I don’t see unreasonable amounts of money being invested into many other areas of the very nascent smart grid sector.

First off, it’s hard to make such blanket statements about the smart grid as a whole. It will be made up by many types of technologies (both hardware and software) that have various attractive and not-very-attractive business models. We know we’ve been guilty of using the general smart grid term in headlines (that’s the problem with having a word-count limit) and lumping the billions of smart grid stimulus funds together, but the infrastructure will actually be very complex. At the moment a lot of companies are just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to discovering possible areas of innovation.
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Zipcar: IPO or No, a Big Year Ahead

zipcarWe can tell you this much about car-sharing company Zipcar’s plans for the next year: It expects to “cross over into profitability.” That’s what Zipcar spokesperson Nancy Scott Lyon told us in late April, shortly after the company launched its fleet management service, and it would be a huge milestone for the decade-old Zipcar. But this week the brouhaha about Zipcar, the country’s largest car-sharing company, has to do with whether or not it plans to seek an IPO (something the company has discussed for over a year now) sometime in 2010. For later-stage startups in the clean technology and transportation space like Zipcar, with still-evolving business models and an eye on an eventual public offering, the year ahead — which could bring the first signs of thaw to the frozen IPO market — will be a crucial one to watch.

Based on an interview with Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith, Bloomberg wrote this week that Zipcar is “gearing up to publicly sell shares in 2010.” According to Bloomberg, Griffith also said that he expects sales to reach $120 million this year and hit $1 billion within a decade. But yesterday Lyon, the Zipcar spokesperson we spoke with earlier this year, told The Deal: “We did not announce an IPO and have no immediate plans to go public.”
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