Silver Spring Networks Scores $75M Led by Kleiner

Silver Spring Networks, a startup working to build the next generation of the smart power grid, says this morning that i’s raising $75 million, led by the green VC folks at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Founded in 2002, Silver Spring is a mature startup and this funding comes from Kleiner’s Green Growth Fund, which is reserved to help companies that have gained initial traction scale up; the rest of the round will include existing investors Foundation Capital, JVB Properties and Northgate Capital.

Silver Spring is kind of like Cisco for the power grid, and through its Internet Protocol-based hardware and software is helping utilities provide smart meter and demand response services to energy users. As the demand for electricity grows and utilities add more renewable energy, the power grid will need to increase its intelligence to manage energy loads and accommodate both clean power — like solar and wind — as well as plug-in vehicles.

So it’s not surprising that VC are pouring money into smart grid technology plays. According to the Cleantech Group, smart grid startups brought in a record $202 million in the third quarter of 2008, which included $120 million for Gridpoint, $40 million for Trilliant, $23 million for BPL Global, and $18.5 million for Eka Systems. (Silver Spring is also one of our 25 startups to watch in our Smart Energy Home briefing, check it out here). In Silver Spring’s funding release, Kleiner Partner John Doerr said, “Implementation of the Smart Grid is one of the most important clean technology initiatives of the coming decade.”

Dell Thinks Small Biz is Big Biz for VoIP

Dell begins bundling Fonality’s open-source software with its enterprise servers today, its latest gambit to compete in the already-crowded VoIP market — this time targeting companies with 125 employees or fewer.

This is fertile ground: Analyst Alan Weckel of research firm Dell ‘Oro Group estimates annual PBX revenues, including those from VoIP phone systems, will exceed $7.5 billion by 2011. Much of this growth could come from small- to medium-sized businesses. Weckel told The Wall Street Journal in August that he thinks 35 million small businesses will adopt IP phone service before 2010 (about 11 million currently use it), a number that’s likely to ramp up if the economic situation worsens.

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