When solar maker Solyndra files for bankruptcy it could lose a big chunk of its VC backers $1.1 billion (we’ll see how much any assets go for). That could make it the largest loss for venture capitalists in history.
Recently-public biofuel and chemical maker Gevo is holding the official ground breaking ceremony for its first commercial-scale project, a retrofit of an old ethanol plant in Luverne, Minn. on Tuesday.
Yet another biofuel startup has filed for an IPO this week, and this time its backers are Silicon Valley heavyweights. On the heels of PetroAlgae filing its S-1, Gevo, which is backed by Khosla and Virgin Fund, plans to raise up to $150 million in an IPO.
Think of it as a friendly backseat driver with a remarkable mind for calculating risk and a keen ability to cut your fuel use and emissions. That’s kind of how 7-year-old startup GreenRoad Technologies’ tool works for improving driver behavior through real-time feedback.
GreenRoad’s system uses sensors, an accelerometor, GPS and customized algorithms to calculate the relative risk of different driving maneuvers, then communicates that to the driver by illuminating either a red, yellow or green light. Installed mainly on commercial fleet vehicles (80 fleets so far), the device can have its algorithm customized according to a customer’s priorities, and it communicates information via cellular networks to GreenRoad’s data center. “The brains are in the vehicle,” GreenRoad marketing chief Eric Weiss told me this week, so even in areas without cellular coverage, drivers “always get real-time feedback.”
Read More about GreenRoad: Maxing Out MPG With Real-time Feedback
Security firm Symantec is warning computer users about a new Mac-specific Trojan that deletes files on the user’s hard drive, according to Techworld.com. It has dubbed the piece of malware “OSX.Loosemaque,” and uploaded a YouTube video of how it goes about its nefarious purpose.
Basically, it’s a Space Invader clone wherein when you kill an alien, a file in your home folder is deleted. It looks like it’s evil — and designed to perform such a task without the knowledge of the Mac owner on which the program resides. But it isn’t. It’s an art project that clearly advertises its purpose and nature to all who would wish to use it. Read More about Art or Virus? Symantec Villifies Spoof Apple “Trojan”
We knew that cleantech startups were getting less venture-capital funding, but it looks like later-stage companies are really suffering. At the Financing the Cleantech Vision conference hosted by Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal in Palo Alto, Calif., on Thursday, Virgin Green Fund partner Anup Jacob said that valuations for later-stage solar companies have been down 50 to 80 percent since the economic downturn began in the fall. And Kevin Skillern, a managing director of GE Energy Financial Services, said at the event that wind and solar valuations are down 50 to 70 percent, with an 80 percent decline in deal volume.
The down rounds — venture-capital rounds in which a company is valued lower than it was worth in previous rounds — can be low enough to essentially wash out companies’ first two rounds, Jacob said. They are causing exiting investors to tighten their belts and get pickier about their investments. For companies looking for their third rounds or higher, Virgin Green Fund is only funding deals with companies that expect the current round to be their last, and also is looking for valuations that are tied to earnings in some way, Jacob said.
Down rounds “force you to have conviction around the things you believe should get funding,” Jacob told us. But it also raises the stakes for companies. “I think there’s a lot of undergrowth in the forest that is going to be cleared out here,” he said. “A lot of companies are just not going to survive.”
Read More about Valuations Down for Later-Stage Cleantech Startups
Microsoft (s MSFT) is gaming us — that’s apparent with a peek at some tweets posted on the Office 2010 Twitter account. They keep denying they are working on their own phone and ducking rumors about a Zune phone, but these tweets are obviously designed to get the rumor mill cranking hot and heavy, if they are really from MS:
Mobuzz, a four-year-old Madrid-based web studio, says the economic downturn has starved it of the €50,000 ($65,235) it needs each month to run the company and has pitched its users a call for €120,000 Euros in donations by this weekend to keep its five daily shows up and running.
The company’s three tech news shows are five-minute roundups along the lines of Webb Alert and Rocketboom but in localized Spanish, English and French editions. In March, Mobuzz also launched separate Spanish gossip and news shows, bringing its total production run to 100 shows a month. Read More about Mobuzz Asks Its Audience to Help Keep It Afloat
Secretive thin-film solar startup Solyndra unveiled for the first time today its solar module design for commercial rooftops and funding totaling more than $600 million. The company says its design can cut the cost of installing solar rooftops in half and reduce installation time by a third.
The design wraps the photovoltaic copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) compound around a series of tubes until they resemble a row of black, fluorescent lights. Each module is curved to catch the maximum amount of light from any direction, so the panels don’t need to be carefully angled and laboriously secured like traditional PV panels. Check out the manufacturing and installation video after the jump to see how it all works.
Read More about Solyndra Amasses $600M for Totally Tubular Thin-Film Solar
Regardless of what you believe about the current state of IP networks’ ability to handle online video, delivering video and voice over IP networks is a far less forgiving experience than routing data packets for email or documents. Brief glitches and network congestion don’t result in garbled email, but with voice or video they can lead to dropped words or jittery pictures. Enter New York-based startup Iptivia, maker of next-generation IP network management software, which as carriers and cable companies focus on the triple-play and quadruple-play offerings over IP networks, is crucial to delivering consistent quality of service.