SmartSynch, the smart grid firm that has championed using cellular networks for utilities’ smart grid projects, has raised another round of $25.67 million in debt and options out of a planned $33.37 million round, according to a filing Wednesday morning. The 11-year-old company, based in Jackson, Miss., raised its first venture capital rounds from Nth Power, Siemens Venture Capital and Kinetic Ventures back in its first couple of years of existence, and by 2003, had raised $35 million. More recently, the company followed up with $20 million in 2008, and another $11 million in debt and options a year ago.
SmartSynch has been trying to close this latest funding over the last couple of weeks, and the company had a small round of layoffs in recent weeks (SmartSynch told me at the time these were only around eight in total and not an overall cost cutting method). But SmartSynch has a new set of projects it has announced over the past few months that it will likely need some funding to get going, including a developer program with Qualcomm, a prepaid electric meter service with startup PayGo, and the universal smart grid router SmartSynch launched in late 2009.
SmartSynch’s desire to add more applications to a cellular smart grid is clear. While SmartSynch has a lot of meters installed at commercial and industrial sites, its residential deployments have been fairly sparse to date. Those include a 10,000-home trial with AT&T and Texas New Mexico Power set to expand to 231,000 meters in the next five years, as well as partnerships with Verizon and Sprint. Verizon Wireless and Qualcomm announced a big machine-to-machine (M2M) partnership in 2009 that included smart grid plans, but Verizon has made more noise with partner eMeter in recent weeks.
The debate is still open whether utilities want to use private networks or public networks for smart meter, and overall smart grid, deployments. SmartSynch has solidly bet on the public network angle. Read SmartSynch CEO Stephen Johnston’s editorial for us last year called 10 Reasons Why Utilities Want to Use Public Networks for the Smart Grid.
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