Will 2010 be the year for greentech IPOs? When lithium ion battery maker A123Systems successfully debuted on the Nasdaq back in September, there was much speculation that the move would ready the market for a following of greentech IPOs. The notion seemed over-enthusiastic then, but three months later solar power startup Solyndra has registered for an IPO, which will likely happen in 2010, and we’ve heard rumors that Tesla is plugging away at its S-1 (Reuters also reported an upcoming Tesla IPO).
Then there’s Silver Spring Networks, which just raised $100 million and looks like it’s getting to that stage where it’s too big to be acquired but will need more financing to compete in the smart grid infrastructure market. Silver Spring isn’t commenting on any IPO rumors, but it is clearly one of the best candidates in the greentech world. If these three — Solyndra, Silver Spring and Tesla — do go public in 2010, it’ll make investor Steve Westly look like a pretty solid market forecaster — he predicted in May that these three would go public by early 2010 and he’s already good for one out of the three.
Out of any of the venture capital investment sectors, greentech has the most bullish outlook in 2010 from a VC standpoint. According the National Venture Capital Association, more than half of a group of venture capitalists surveyed predicted that clean technology would see higher investment levels in 2010. According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, venture capital investing in cleantech already rebounded sharply in the third quarter of 2009 to $898 million in 57 deals, up from $475 million in 49 deals in the second quarter of 2009.
The IPO market in general is also looking better to VCs. VCs surveyed by the NVCA are predicting “a mild improvement” in the number of venture-backed IPOs overall in 2010, with 74 percent of respondents saying they think there will be more than 20 IPOs in 2010. However, according to this Reuters article, greentech companies’ offerings represented only a small portion of the overall U.S. IPO market in 2009, ranking fifth by dollars raised in 2009 in the IPO market, and accountng for 8.5 percent of issuance by companies going public in 2009.
Will 2010 see greentech firms gathering a bigger percent of those IPO dollars? I think so, but it all depends on how strong the companies are. As Westly explained to us, his 2010 greentech IPO predictions were based on a company showing 10x growth in revenue between 2008 and 2009. Solyndra has generated revenues of $58.8 million for the nine months ended October 3, 2009, rising from revenues of $6 million for the fiscal year ended January 3, 2009.
So which firms beyond the three mentioned are seeing that type of growth in the greentech space? Greentech Media added smart grid firm Trilliant, solar thermal company BrightSource Energy, and LED maker Bridgelux to the potential IPO list after A123Systems went public. If you have any predictions add them to the comments.