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Posts Tagged ‘Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’

Article from GigaOm.

“Two Silicon Valley-backed Bay Area companies appear to be the tech vendors behind Apple’s new sizable and pioneering clean power push at its massive data center in North Carolina. Last week it was revealed that solar panel maker SunPower will provide Apple with panels for a 20 MW solar farm, while I reported earlier this month that fuel cell maker Bloom Energy looks to be the vendor behind Apple’s 5 MW fuel cell farm. The significance of Apple opting to partner with two Valley-born clean power firms illustrates that the greentech venture ecosystem can work — it just takes quite a long time.

San Jose, Calif.-based solar panel maker SunPower was founded way back in the mid-80′s by Stanford electrical engineering professor Richard Swanson, and received early funds from the Department of Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute, two venture capital firms and chip firm Cypress Semiconductor. The company went public in the Spring of 2005, bought venture-backed Berkeley, Calif.-based solar installer Powerlight in late 2006, and more recently was bought by oil giant Total.

Sunnyvale, Calif-based fuel cell maker Bloom Energy was founded a decade ago, though only came out of stealth two years ago, and was venture capital firm Kleiner Perkin’s first foray into greentech. Bloom also counts venture firm NEA as an investor, and Bloom raised its latest $150 million round of funding in late 2011.

Both companies have taken years to develop into firms that can mass produce their respective clean power technologies at scale and at a low enough cost to meet the needs of a large customer like Apple. And both companies have likely taken longer to mature than their investors had originally hoped. Kleiner Partner John Doerr said a couple years ago that he thought Bloom Energy would take nine years to go public (which, if true, would mean Bloom would have gone public last year). SunPower’s execs reportedly said back in the early(ish) days of the company that developing SunPower into a solar manufacturer took a lot longer than they anticipated.

But Apple apparently chose these two Bay Area clean power leaders for its first-of-its-kind, huge solar and clean power farms, suggesting these firms are delivering industry-leading products at the right economics for Apple. Apple is spending $1 billion on the data center, and likely between $70 million to $100 million on the solar farm. Each 100 kW Bloom fuel cell costs between $700,000 to $800,000 (before subsidies), so Apple’s fuel cell farm could cost around $35 million.

Yes, both SunPower and Bloom Energy, have had their fare share of struggles in recent years. 2011 was a particularly difficult year for SunPower, with a glut of solar panels causing prices to fall around 50 percent globally and Total’s CEO said recently that SunPower would have gone bankrupt last year without Total’s backing. Bloom Energy is a private company and doesn’t disclose its financials, but likely if Bloom was in shape to go public in 2011, it would have done so.

However, it’s no secret that greentech has been a particularly hard area for venture capitalists to invest in. The long time tables, the large capital needed, the hardcore science for the innovations, and the low cost focused energy markets, have created a difficult ecosystem for the traditional VC to make money off of. But after a long slog — which is still ongoing for SunPower and Bloom Energy in 2012 — these clean power technologies have actually broken into the mainstream. Valley, backed cleantech firms can make it — you’ve just got to sit back and wait.”

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Here is an article from SF Gate.

“Ning Inc., the social-networking site co-founded by venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, did what many young Web companies only dream of: It got customers weaned on free services to start paying.

Since telling users in April that it would stop offering the means to build and operate social networks for free, Ning’s paid user base tripled to 45,000, with memberships starting at $2.95 a month. The privately held Palo Alto company is adding paying subscribers at the rate of 5,000 a month, three times what it was before.

“A very large percentage of economic activity is shifting online, and it makes sense that there are more services that are going to charge,” said Andreessen, the co-founder of Netscape Communications Corp., who serves as Ning’s chairman. “It also means there are going to be more people willing to pay.”

Few are charging

Ning is one of the few social-media sites charging users, following a path cut by media and entertainment providers, which have experimented with fee-based services. Founded in 2004, the same year as Facebook Inc., Ning failed to turn a profit with its original strategy: offering most services for free and charging a monthly fee for extra features. Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Gina Bianchini resigned in March, and 42 percent of the staff was laid off in April.

Social-networking tools on the Web are widely available for free. Facebook, which has more than 500 million users, is expected to generate at least $1.4 billion this year, mostly from the sale of ads, two people familiar with the matter said last month. Twitter, with more than 100 million users, began running ads on its site this year.

With a large population of Web users relying on Facebook for basic social services, like keeping track of close friends, there’s an opportunity for other sites to charge for more unique services, said Lou Kerner, a social-media analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. in New York.

“Facebook has won the free social media race,” said Kerner. “What you’re seeing in the marketplace is folks who are trying to find out business models that are more niche-oriented.”

For Jive Software Inc., that niche is business. The startup, also based in Palo Alto, sells social-networking and online collaboration tools to corporations, including Nike Inc., Intel Corp. and Charles Schwab Corp. Jive’s services start at $100 per user per year, and many customers pay for at least 10,000 users to start.

“The use of social software in the consumer world has no doubt fueled the interest level” among business users, said Tony Zingale, Jive’s CEO. The company, which received a $30 million investment last month led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, expects bookings of as much as $25 million in the last three months of the year, he said.

Paying subscribers are an attractive asset to venture capitalists, who are often asked for money from Internet startups planning to cash in on advertising.

“Ad-driven is a lazy model,” said Dave McClure, a startup adviser and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. “If there is value, then there probably is a paid relationship that works there at some point,” he said.

Business networking site LinkedIn Corp. generates some revenue by selling professional services, like tools for finding and recruiting job candidates. Meetup Inc., a service for coordinating social events, charges organizers a fee.

The “freemium” model of charging a portion of users is nothing new. One of the earliest examples is PayPal Inc., founded in 1998, which made its payment service free to buyers of products and services so that many people would use it.

“You need free users to enhance the overall value for the product,” said David Sacks, one of the founders of PayPal, who now runs enterprise social-media startup Yammer.”

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Here is some intriguing new opportunities for iPad developers.

“Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said Wednesday that it is doubling a fund that focuses on the iPhone and iPod Touch to $200 million to include new applications for the upcoming iPad.

Partner John Doerr said Kleiner Perkins has exhausted its original $100 million iFund that it began two years ago. Now with the iPad coming, he said the application boom that began on the iPhone will extend into a new wave of iPad apps that transforms the way people interact with computers.

“We will move beyond spread sheets, word processors and Web sites limited by a browser to an interactive, connected world with incredible speed and fluidity,” Doerr said during a press event near its headquarters.

The public support from a respected venture capital firm lends more momentum to the launch of the iPad this Saturday and gives developers more incentive to develop dedicated iPad apps. The fund could help seed a new generation of iPad app companies that help define the device much the way early iFund recipients led the way for the iPhone.

The original iFund supported 14 companies, including the well-known Ngmoco, Pinger, Shazam and Booyah. The companies have collectively made more than $100 million and accounted for more than 100 million downloads.

Doerr said those companies have more than 20 iPad specific apps in the works with at least 11 to be released Saturday when the iPad goes on sale.

Many of the iFund companies have had a chance to work with the iPad. Some executives on Wednesday talked about how the device will create more engaging and longer experiences that require more thought and can lead to more profitable and memorable apps.

“We’re really trying to take advantage of the added real estate, and we’re trying to leverage the way users want to use the device,” said Neil Young, CEO and founder of gaming company Ngmoco, which is bringing three new games to the iPad. “The iPad has the opportunity to revolutionize gaming in the home in the same way the iPhone and iPod Touch revolutionized gaming on the go.”

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Here is an article from SF Chronicle´s tech section worth reading.

“Intel Corp. and 24 venture capital firms will invest $3.5 billion in U.S. technology startups over the next two years, as part of a broad initiative to boost the nation’s competitiveness and create jobs.

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Not according to plan one can say! Here is som gruesome news from Cleaninvest.

“On 2 Sep 2009, geothermal startup AltaRock Energy said it has suspended drilling at its demonstration project in California due to geologic anomalies. The startup said it encountered a number of physical difficulties at the site while drilling its first well.

However, the company said it will keep developing its engineered geothermal systems (EGS) technology and is evaluating alternative well locations, both at the Geysers, a site north of San Francisco, and elsewhere. The news comes as a blow to AltaRock’s demonstration project, which is backed by $6.24 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Energy, with the possibility of $2.76 million more.

In 2008, AltaRock raised $26.25 million from Google.org (which contributed $6.25 million), Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Advanced Technology Ventures and Vulcan Capital.”

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