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Article from SFGate.

Two weeks ago, solar power plant company BrightSource Energy abruptly canceled plans for an initial public stock offering, convinced that investors currently have little appetite for new solar shares.

Now SolarCity Corp. will test that theory.

SolarCity on Monday reported plans for its own IPO. The San Mateo company, best known for leasing rooftop solar systems to homeowners and businesses, filed a confidential draft registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

SolarCity’s brief statement announcing its IPO did not specify a price range for the stock or say when trading might commence.

The company was founded in 2006 by brothers Lyndon and Peter Rive. Their cousin – Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk – chairs the company’s board.

SolarCity had been widely expected to go public this year. The popularity of residential solar leases, which allow homeowners to install solar panels without paying the up-front cost, has grown quickly. SolarCity and San Francisco’s SunRun Inc. have emerged as the field’s dominant players.

Ugly year for stocks

But SolarCity could face headwinds on Wall Street.

Solar stocks have endured an ugly year, falling even before the highly public bankruptcy of Fremont’s Solyndra. All have been hammered by a worldwide plunge in solar cell prices, the result of new factories in China flooding the market. A Bloomberg index of major solar stocks – including First Solar Inc. and SunPower Corp. – lost 67 percent of its value in the last 12 months.

So burned have investors been that they may look askance at solar companies that have nothing to do with making cells.

BrightSource, based in Oakland, called off its IPO on April 11, just hours before trading was scheduled to start. The company’s large solar power plants don’t use photovoltaic cells. Instead, they use fields of mirrors to concentrate sunlight and generate heat.

And yet, as BrightSource executives spoke with potential investors in the weeks before the planned IPO, the investors were skittish. It didn’t help that solar stocks, which had shown some improvement in January and February, tanked during the road show, said BrightSource CEO John Woolard.

“The feedback we were getting from investors was, ‘In the solar space in particular, it’s been a bad place for us to be, recently,’ ” Woolard said last week.

He felt fortunate that BrightSource didn’t absolutely need to move forward with its stock sale. The company’s board unanimously voted to cancel the IPO rather than postpone it.

“You can always get a deal done,” Woolard said. “The questions are: at what price? Is there after-market support? Is it going to be a good outcome or not? Is it a deal you want?”

The fall in solar cell prices that has gutted so many solar stocks has, in fact, helped SolarCity.

Although they receive less public attention than struggling solar manufacturers, the companies that develop or install photovoltaic solar systems have benefited from tumbling prices, which make their systems more affordable. That could work in SolarCity’s favor when the company’s shares start trading.

Deal with military

“It’s not a good time for solar manufacturing, but it’s a great time for other parts of the solar industry,” said Ron Pernick, managing director of the Clean Edge Inc. market research firm. “This is one of the areas where we’re seeing a lot of deployment and growth, and it’s quite robust.”

Some large, institutional investors are already quite familiar with SolarCity.

Both Bank of America Merrill Lynch and U.S. Bankcorp. are financing a $1 billion SolarCity project to place solar panels on military housing across the country. The U.S. Department of Energy had initially agreed to back the effort with a loan guarantee of $275 million, under the same federal program that gave Solyndra $528 million to build a factory in Fremont. But the loan program expired before the department and SolarCity could agree on terms.

Those banks understand SolarCity’s business and know that the company doesn’t share the problems plaguing manufacturers, Pernick said.

“I think savvy investors will understand the difference,” he said. “Whether the general public does, we’ll have to see.”

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Here is an article from SF Gate.

“The U.S. Department of Energy on Monday awarded $92 million in stimulus funds for research projects that could change the way the country uses and stores energy, with $22 million going to California companies and universities.

The money represents the Obama administration’s latest round of investments in green technology. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has already funded loans for several green Bay Area companies, such as Solyndra of Fremont and Tesla Motors of Palo Alto.

“By driving energy innovation, we can take the lead in high-tech energy manufacturing and export these products to the world,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Eleven projects in California received funding on Monday. Many focus on more energy-efficient cooling systems or better ways to store energy on a large scale – one of the clean tech industry’s holy grails.

Although most of the awards went to Southern California companies and labs, two Bay Area projects received funding. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley – which Chu used to run – won $1.6 million to develop flow batteries, a type of rechargeable battery in which reactive chemicals are pumped through the battery’s cells whenever energy is needed. And Primus Power of Alameda won $2 million to develop electrodes for flow batteries.”

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Here is an Article worth reading from Ajax World Magazine.

“As we start this year, hope is mounting on a vibrant IPO market, better than last couple of years. This article lists 20 companies that are hot candidates for IPO. The list has some well-known names like Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, Yelp, LiveOps, and Tesla Motors. The less known names are – Associated Content, Brightcove, Chegg, Demand Media Etsy, Exact Target, Gilt Group, Glam Media, Rearden Commerce, Workday, and Zynga.

Workday is the new company founded by Peoplesoft founder David Duffield. It’s a SaaS-based HR and ERP company. Zynga is a hot company in the virtual gaming space on the Internet. It’s famous game Farmville is raking in good revenue from Facebook users. I hear the game is quite addictive.

Twitter is rumored to be valued at billion plus dollars, that with very little revenue. It has the publish-subscribe model where conversations-by-subject can be tracked. That should be a bonanza for marketers,  seeking specific target audiences.

Most of the companies in the list are addressing “content” either the discovery or the publishing of. We don’t see the old-fashioned enterprise applications anywhere, a reflection of the changing times. Workday is in that category, but purely cloud-based offering just like SalesForce.com few years back.

Companies like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype brag huge number of eyeballs (users), bringing back memories of the dot.com days. Jeff Bezos in the height of the boom had said, “I spell profit as prophet”.

Let us get back to some crazy wealth-creation via IPOs. It’s about time.”

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Here is some interresting thoughts from CNET.

“With investors getting smarter and start-ups getting bought, the mood is brightening in green tech. But the high-profile companies seeking to go public this year have some industry watchers talking bubbles.

For proof, investors point to the spate of planned initial public offerings, including electric car maker Tesla Motors, solar company Solyndra, and biofuels maker Codexis. Smart-grid company Silver Spring Networks and biofuels maker Amyris are rumored to be on deck.

Long-term trends may favor innovative green companies, as concerns about energy resources and the environment grow. But that doesn’t mean this year’s leading companies can navigate the complex regulatory and financial environment to become successful companies, said Jack Robinson, founder of Winslow Management, which focuses on environmentally oriented public companies.

“Valuations seem to be ahead of themselves,” Robinson said. “Some of the people [in venture-backed green-tech companies] don’t have the history and don’t understand the pitfalls that need to be addressed from a technology, market, regulatory, and political point of view.”

An example of a company he considers highly valued is lithium ion battery maker A123 Systems, which went public last September. In addition to raising $371 million, it raised the hopes of many other young energy companies.

Investor Rob Day of Black Coral Capital did an analysis of four recent IPO filings in the green-tech area and was concerned when he found that their unofficial revenue numbers were far below the amount of money put into them.

Nonetheless, even early misfires don’t mean investors should write off the whole sector. The high-profile companies that have filed to go public aren’t the best indicators of what’s to come as many other companies could raise funding through private equity sources, rather than tapping the public stock market, Day argued.

“My worry is that if these IPOs are perceived later on this year as having been unsuccessful, it’ll once again set back the entire clean tech venture industry, because of the example it sets in terms of lack of (financial) exits,” he wrote.

Netscape moment ahead?
Even with the worries over financial returns for investors, there’s a reason that IPO hopefuls have gotten as far as they have. It’s widely recognized that Tesla Motors and Solyndra, for example, have developed innovative technologies. Tesla’s $109,000 Roadster has become a darling among the well-heeled and its planned Model S sedan, priced at about $57,000 before tax credits, has legions of fans even though it won’t be built for two more years.

Solyndra has developed a solar collector designed specifically for flat commercial rooftops. In its first installations, the company touts how quickly these collectors, which use curved thin-film solar cells, can be installed, which brings down the overall system cost.

As with many green-tech upstarts, though, both companies have big-time challenges. Solyndra and Tesla borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Energy to build manufacturing facilities and they face powerful competition, in the form of incumbent automakers and low-cost Chinese solar panel producers.”

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Here is a good summary from Shai Goldman on top events in the VC and tech industry of 2009.

“Given that we are just about at year-end, I wanted to provide a recap of some of the most memorable moments that took place in the venture capital and technology ecosystem.  Below is a list of  the 10 most important events:

First VC backed technology IPO –  OpenTable goes public at $20/share on May 21st.

First VC backed acquisition (above $500M) – Pure Digital acquired by Cisco for $590M.

First VC backed cleantech IPO – A123 goes public at $17/share on September 23rd.

Khosla Ventures raises $1.1B – in 2009 most VC funds were shrinking in size, yet Khosla Ventures was able to raise $1.1B, this event was a sign that Limited Partners (L.P.s) we actively seeking investment opportunities in the VC sector – September 1st.

Tesla Motors receives $465M from the D.O.E – First technology company to receive a loan guaranty – June 23rd.

Twitter raises a $100M VC round of financing – at a time when there are questions about the consumer internet sector, this funding provided some positive support that $ can be made in the sector – September 25th.

NASDAQ closes above 2,000 – August 3rd- the previous time NASDAQ was above 2,000 was September 30, 2008.

Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 10,000 – October 14th – the previous time the Dow was above 10,000 was October 2, 2008.

Apple App Store gets more that 100,000 applications published – November 4th – as you may recall the App Store launched on July 10, 2008 and the creation of the iPhone and App Store has created opportunities for both VCs and Startups to make $$.

Facebook Connect is widely adopted by 60M users and 80K sites – the utilization of Facebook Connect has allowed startup companies a way to reduce the time / effort for their users to sign up for a particular service.”

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Here is some IPO news from Marketwatch.

After recent optimistic comments about an upcoming rebound in technology initial public offerings by several Silicon Valley venture capitalists and investment bankers, I decided to see if the reality lived up to the hype — and hope — and trolled through several regulatory filings to see what technology companies are in the queue to go public.

Last week, wheeler dealers at the Venture Summit Silicon Valley conference said there were a slew of technology companies working on S1 filings, the core regulatory document for an IPO. At least 50 venture-backed companies could seek to go public next year, possibly as high as 100, dealmakers said. See column on venture capitalists’ optimism here.

“It’s certainly going to start a lot more robust than 2009, which was completely dead,” said Scott Sweet, senior managing partner of the IPO Boutique. “The last three months of 2009, though, have been quite busy.”

Currently, though, it’s a rather motley crew of tech companies that have filed S1s to go public, and nothing yet that might have the buzz — or shall we say hype — of some of the widely-anticipated Silicon Valley names like Facebook, Zynga, or Tesla Motors.

That said, many look to be solid citizens, with revenue growth and earnings, but some firms are still losing money, not exactly an example of the new, improved IPO. Sweet said two tech IPO names that have the most chatter in this batch are Calix Networks Inc. and Fabrinet, both of which were founded during — and survived — the dot-com bubble and bust.

Calix Networks develops broadband access equipment for network service providers. Revenue jumped in 2008 to $250.5 million, up from $193.8 million in 2007. It’s still losing money and lost $17 million in 2008, an improvement from its loss of $26 million in 2007. Founded during the boom in August, 1999, Calix is based in Petaluma, Calif., a farming area north of San Francisco, dubbed Telecom Valley, a once fertile area for telecom startups as well. Earlier this year, it raised $100 million in additional venture.

Fabrinet was also founded in August 1999 and started operating in January 2000. Its corporate headquarters are in the Cayman Islands. It offers contract manufacturing services for developers of optical communications components, one of the most-hyped hardware areas of the late ’90s. Fabrinet designs and makes products like application-specific crystals, prisms, mirrors and laser components for six of the ten largest optical communications components companies worldwide.”

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I think that we last week saw a start of a new boom, A123 soured on the IPO, and many candidates are waiting in line. Here is piece on the issue from Reuters.

“SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 24 (Reuters) – A 50 percent leap in the shares of lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems Inc (AONE.O) on their first day of trading looks likely to jumpstart the market for clean-tech share offerings.

The Watertown, Mass.-based A123 Systems is now worth over $1.9 billion, a striking valuation for a company that has yet to make a profit and still needs large-scale commercialization.

Industry executives and experts said A123’s success shows investors have an appetite for green technology companies that lose money, but have tremendous potential.

So the stock’s first day jump, which is the second-best performance for a debut stock in 2009, should encourage more venture capital-backed clean technology companies to go public, they added.

“This is an interesting time for the market because there are several (clean-tech) companies that have been growing very nicely,” said Faysal Sohail, managing director of venture fund CMEA Capital, which is an investor in A123.

Sohail declined to comment specifically on A123, but said the whole environment is creating opportunities for clean-tech companies and expects 2010 to be a busy year for green IPOs.

“They are real companies with substantial revenue and growing at a very fast clip,” he said.

CMEA Capital also backs companies such as Silicon Valley solar manufacturer Solyndra and biofuel company Codexis, which many see as likely candidates for the IPO market.

Other green companies deemed ripe for an IPO include smart grid network company Silver Spring Networks, electric carmaker Tesla Motors and solar thermal company BrightSource Energy.”

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