The rumors of an impending IPO for smart grid networking darling Silver Spring Networks are now…more detailed rumors. The latest comes from Dow Jones Clean Technology Insight, which reported Friday that Silver Spring has picked a banker for an IPO scheduled for mid-2010, and is aiming at a market valuation of $3 billion. Silver Spring spokeswoman Lisa Magnuson declined to comment on the report, which came from an anonymous source who named Jefferies & Co. and Morgan Stanley, co-manager of A123 System’s September IPO, as Silver Spring’s banking picks.
Sounds par for the course, when it comes to alleged details on the most poorly kept secret in cleantech. Bloomberg first hinted at a Silver Spring IPO in August, while reporting that CEO Scott Lang was predicting profitability in the third quarter of 2009 and $200 million in revenues some time this year. But that $3 billion valuation figure is about double the rumored $1.5 billion valuation figure that started floating around after Silver Spring bought home energy web display software developer Greenbox Technologies in September for a rumored $20 million.
Of course, since then, Silver Spring raised an additional $100 million in December, bringing its total VC haul to some $275 million (Google Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Northgate Capital are among its investors). That puts it in the class of startups that are getting too big to be acquired. (Company representatives often balk at the term “startup” being applied to their company, given that scale of investment, not to mention the fact that it’s been around in one form or another since 1996.)
Silver Spring has also landed a host of utility contracts in an industry that demands its players grow to utility scale. Silver Spring’s radios are inside the majority of the smart meters that are being deployed by PG&E, and Florida Power & Light, Pepco Holdings, and American Electric Power. FPL and Pepco are among utilities that got Department of Energy grants to boost their deployments, boosting the schedule for rolling out Silver Springs’ gear. Other DOE grant-winning customers include Commonwealth Edison and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District — and that’s not to mention the deals the company has in Australia, or the work its doing to use its networking tech for smart grid applications beyond smart meters, such as for the Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative in Texas.
Dow Jones put the company’s backlog at about $800 million. To be sure, a good deal of the company’s most recently landed business is supported by Department of Energy grant funding — and that could expose it to delays and bureaucratic wrangling over that cash, as we reported last week. Still, compared to its emerging peers, Silver Spring is the smart grid startup to beat when it comes to racing to the IPO finish line.
Who will be next to IPO? Investor Steve Westly in May named Silver Spring on a short list of cleantech IPOs he was expecting, along with Solyndra, which filed IPO papers late last year, and Tesla Motors, which filed its IPO papers in late January. Other cleantech startups on investors radar screens include smart grid networking company Trilliant, solar thermal developer BrightSource Energy and LED maker Bridgelux.