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And the Top Clean-Tech Companies Are...

Written by Colleen Debaise, The Wall Street Journal
Published: March 7, 2010


For start-ups that harness the energy of the sun, 2010 looks to be a promising year.

In The Wall Street Journal's first survey of venture-backed clean-technology companies, three solar-power firms came out on top: Solyndra Inc. of Fremont, Calif.; Suniva Inc. of Norcross, Ga.; and eSolar Inc. of Pasadena, Calif. The rankings, announced Thursday at the Journal's ECO:Nomics Executive Conference in Santa Barbara, Calif., seek to identify those green companies that have the capital, executive experience and investor know-how to succeed in an increasingly crowded field

Other notables on the Top 10 Cleantech list include two eco-friendly car makers— Fisker Automotive Inc. of Irvine, Calif., and Tesla Motors Inc. of San Carlos, Calif.—and New York's RecycleBank LLC., which provides rewards programs to motivate people to recycle.

Several companies on the list have benefited from the Department of Energy's largesse. Last year, No. 1 Solyndra secured a $535 million government loan on top of $286 million it raised in venture financing. The company also saw its revenues jump to $58.8 million for the first nine months of 2009 compared with $6 million for all of 2008. Solyndra filed in late December for a public offering and declined to comment, citing a quiet period.

No. 1 Solyndra filed in December to go public.

A team from research firm VentureSource (owned by NewsCorp., which also owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Journal) calculated the rankings, applying a set of financial criteria to some 350 U.S.-based venture-backed businesses in clean technology.

Companies that make everything from fuel-cell technologies to carbon-management software were analyzed according to four financial criteria: the track records of success for both a company's founders and management, and for the investors on its board; the amount of capital raised in the last three years, and the percentage change in a company's valuation in the 12 months ended Nov. 30. Dow Jones reporters and editors who cover the venture capital industry also provided their perspective and expertise beyond the numbers.

In early March, the Journal will publish its first ranking of venture-funded companies. The Next Big Thing: Top 50 Venture-Backed Companies will indicate the odds of success for U.S.-based companies valued at less than $1 billion.

4) RecycleBank

Headquarters: New York

Description: Provider of incentive-based recycling services to communities.

Founder: Ron Gonen

Investors: Coca-cola Bottling Group, Generation Investment Management, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, RRE Ventures, Sigma Partners, Westly Group

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Recyclebank At A Glance

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New York, Philadelphia and Houston

Javier Flaim


The Coca-Cola Company, Craton Equity Partners, Generation Investment Management, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Paul Capital Investments, Physic Ventures, RRE Ventures LLC, Sigma Partners, Waste Management Inc., and Westly Group

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300+ in all 50 states

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