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The Daily Startup: Clean-Tech Funds Keeping It In The Family

The Daily Startup: Clean-Tech Funds Keeping It In The Family

Clean-technology investing is on the decline. Venture capital firms put just $2.74 billion into clean-tech startups in 2013, down from a high of $6.02 billion in 2008, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. A few recent glimmers of hope haven’t caused traditional VC funds to flood back into the sector yet, but family offices have filled the void to some degree. The latest is Prelude Ventures, which has emerged in recent months as one of the more active clean-tech investors, Yuliya Chernova reports for VentureWire.“These are big, big markets that continue to grow rapidly,” said Tim Woodward, managing director at the San Francisco firm. Other family offices, including those affiliated with the Pritzker and Walton families, have been active too.

For Prelude, “the LP base provides the capital in somewhat of an evergreen mode,” said Mr. Woodward, adding that the family-office structure allows for a longer-term approach than a standard venture fund. Family offices could start to see some clean-tech competition, however. Venture investors’ appetite for the sector may be whetted by recent exits like SolarCityNest LabsTesla Motors and Opower.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

  • Sierra Ventures has closed Fund X at $145 million, an undertaking that took more than two years and is less than half the size of its predecessor, Lizette Chapman reports for VentureWire. Four of the firm’s seven investing partners now listed on the firm’s website will continue with the new fund. The other three will continue to manage existing investments but make no new ones.
  • Sift Science, created by a team of ex-Google engineers in 2011, has raised $18 million in Series B funding to detect and prevent fraud online. Spark Capital led the investment, joined by the company’s earlier backers Union Square Ventures and First Round Capital.
  • ADT, the home security giant whose history dates back nearly 140 years, has made a strategic $25 million investment in Life360, part of ADT’s expansion beyond alarm systems and into the realm of the Internet of Things. San Francisco-based startup Life360 makes a free mobile app that allows families to share their locations and activities with each other in a secure private network and get emergency assistance and other premium services for a monthly fee.
  • SolveBio, an early-stage Big Data company that aims to collect genetic information and make it easily available to researchers, has raised $2 million led by Andreessen Horowitz, joined by SV Angel and various individual investors including Max Levchin,Charlie CheeverNat Turner and Zach Weinberg.
  • Boxed, a startup that says it is pioneering a new business paradigm–offering warehouse club shopping via mobile application–has raised a $6.5 million Series A led by return investorGreycroft Partners and new investors First Round Capital and Signia Venture Partners.
  • MabVax Therapeutics plans to go public by merging with Telik, a deal that will create a company with multiple immunotherapy-based products for cancer. MabVax has raised $14.2 million in venture capital from a group that includes RTP Venture FundGBP Capital (nowBiomark Capital), and Numoda Capital Innovations.
  • Attensity, a social media analytics provider, has changed chief executives and has raised another $90 million for technology that detects customer sentiment by analyzing large amounts of structured and unstructured data. The money comes from Aeris Capital.
  • Swagbucks, an online rewards service, has raised $60 million in funding fromTechnology Crossover Ventures and announced that former Fandango CEO Chuck Davis is its new chief executive.
  • Capital Factory and advertising giant WPP are leading a $1.5 million seed investmentin YouEarnedIt, whose Web and mobile apps encourage colleagues to give each other kudos.
  • Ceterix Orthopaedics, a sports-medicine device maker, has raised $18 million in new funding to further commercialize its surgical tools. Returning investors Novo A/S,Versant Ventures and 5AM Ventures provided the funding.

(VentureWire is a daily newsletter with comprehensive analysis of all the investments, deals and personnel moves involving start-ups and their venture backers. For a two-week trial, click here.)


  • Why the Pundits Have SaaS Valuations All Wrong. The endless comparisons of the current investment climate to the last tech bubble are misguided and can lead to bad investment decisions, at least when it comes to software-as-a-service companies, writeScott Kupor and Preethi Kasireddy of Andreessen Horowitz on the firm’s blog.
  • Gross Entitlement in San Francisco? If you look back to 1999, there are some glaring differences between then and now, and not all are good, says Om Malik of GigaOm, who writes that 1999 had a gold rush mentality, but this time around you see more of a “gross entitlement.”
  • DevOps Great for Startups, Not Really for Enterprises. The latest software development buzzword is “dev-ops,” a method that stresses communication and collaboration between developers and IT professionals. While it’s a great way to help startups achieve radically higher productivity at lower costs as they build their organizations, it doesn’t work as well for larger enterprises, writes Rachel Shannon-Solomon, venture associate at enterprise accelerator At Work-Bench, in a guest column for WSJ’s CIO Journal.
  • Fast Forward Launches Startup Accelerator for Nonprofits. Techies in Silicon Valley get a lot of flak for their fondness of the idea that they are making the world a better place, but one new San Francisco-based startup accelerator may actually mean it, re/code’s Liz Gannes reports. Fast Forward launches this summer and has already accepted its first five nonprofits.
  • Yahoo Acquires Blink. Mobile messaging app Blink, which lets users share self-destructing messages, has been acquired by Yahoo and will shut down, TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez reports. All seven Blink team members will now be joining Yahoo. Blink is a product of Meh Labs, which had raised $1 million in seed funding from Triple PointNEA,AngelPad and various angel investors.
  • Ex-Digg CEO Raises Cash From Jeff Bezos and a16z. Former Digg CEO Matt Williams has formed new online home improvement startup, reports GeekWire’s John Cook.’s backers include Madrona Venture Group,Andreessen HorowitzRedpoint VenturesTwo Sigma VenturesSherpa Foundry and Bezos Expeditions, the venture capital firm of founder Jeff Bezos.
  • Mark Heesen Honored at VentureScapeThe National Venture Capital Association presented Mark Heesen, its former president, with its Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual meeting in San Francisco. Heesen led efforts at NVCA for over 20 years, first as the head of public policy from 1991-1999, and then as president from 1999-2013.
  • Changing the Rules in a New Market. When it comes to competing in a new market, the worst thing an entrepreneur can do is learn the rules of the game, writes Rincon Venture Partners’ John Greathouse for the WSJ’s Accelerators blog. Instead, he says, you have to create a new game.
  • The Math of a Micro-VC Fund. Charlie O’Donnell raised an $8.3 million debut fund forBrooklyn Bridge Ventures a couple of years ago, and he explains what it costs to run the fund and what he needs to do to make it successful. “How does one make money raising a venture fund of this size? Not easily, let me tell you,” he writes. Still, he says, the upside is tremendous.


Fonte: The Wall Street Journal

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