As demand for energy resources and data continues to grow, venture investors in both sectors are finding more of their time is being spent looking at how they can store and use the units produced leading to multiple Big Deals this past week.
In information technology (IT), Skyera, a US-based data storage provider, raised $45.6m in its series B round from a consortium including computer maker Dell’s corporate venturing unit,
Dell Ventures led the round that climbed to $51.6m once the seed stage was included. Other strategic investors rather than any venture capital firm filled out the round.
Skyera, formerly known as StorCloud, offers its SkyHawk all-flash storage arrays at $3 per gigabyte and is taking on well-funded peers.
In August, Pure Storage, another all-flash enterprise storage array company, raised $40m from venture capital firms led by Index Ventures to take its total to $95m. Pure’s investors also include South Korea-based conglomerate Samsung’s corporate venturing unit and has a long list of corporate partners helping the business.
The potential impact of flash memory is leading incumbents to develop their corporate venturing strategies, with Dell being joined by Sandisk, a flash memory storage provider, that started its corporate venturing unit in December.
And exits remain round the corner. Violin Memory said it was raising more money before going public.
Violin Memory, a US-based corporate venturing-backed maker of data storage equipment backed by Japan-based peer Toshiba, extended its pre-flotation round by up to $50m.
Violin increased the amount it is raising from private investors could reach $130m from a previously disclosed round of $80m and said in a regulatory filing it had now raised $96.2m.
As law firm Fenwick & West said in its latest quarterly venture report: “Enterprise-facing IT businesses appear to have attracted increased interest in 2012. Cleantech and, to a lesser extent, life science continue to be weak, although they appear to be attracting more corporate interest.”
Data provider Cleantech Group has 416 energy storage companies, which have raised about $100m per quarter in venture capital since 2007, but also has noted the increased corporate attention to energy storage.
This month, Xtreme Power, a US-based energy storage and system developer backed by chemicals company Dow and oil major BP’s corporate venturing units, has raised $5.75m of a planned $10m round, according to a regulatory filing first seen by BizJournal.
LightSail Energy, a US-based compressed air energy storage technology, extended its series D round by $5.5m from France-based oil major Total’s corporate venturing unit.
LightSail initially raised $37.3m in its D round in November from angel investors Peter Thiel and Bill Gates and venture capital firm Khosla Ventures and Innovacorp, a Canadian province-backed investment company.
François Badoual, chief executive of Total Energy Ventures, said: “Energy storage is an important enabler for the long-term development of alternative energies and to ensure the stability of electricity supply.”
While in Canada, Temporal Power completed a $10m B round, with Enbridge Emerging Technology emerging as major corporate venturing investor.
Enbridge has already acquired more than $3bn in renewable energy assets — a combination of solar, wind, geothermal and run-of-river hydro – and is now working out how to store the power using flywheel technology.
A third energy storage system, Xtreme Power, a US-based energy storage and system developer backed by chemicals company Dow and oil major BP’s corporate venturing units, has been busy raising $5.75m of a planned $10m round, according to a regulatory filing first seen by BizJournal.
The flexibility in storing and releasing supply from alternative energy sources throws up an interesting challenge for how firms can close the loop between their feedstock and end-result and what any waste can then be used for. (I am writing a report on closed-loop systems in clean-energy and clean-tech ahead of a roundtable at law firm Baker Botts on 13 March in London – thoughts and potential interest in attending both most welcome.)
But the activity is not confined to developed markets. A great partnership between mobile phone operator Vodafone and power storage provider Fenix will offers batteries to emerging markets off-grid and needing to charge their mobile phones
Given this corporate interest, a crucial bottleneck in the modern world of big data and alternative energy sources is being tackled through corporate venturing.