Trouble Brewing for Cleantech IPOs?

by: Greentech Media

By Rob Day

Haven't had much time to go through the various recent cleantech IPO filings, and so haven't talked about them much. Also just generally hoping they do well, for the sake of the overall industry.

But in a meeting today someone put up some stats that were pretty sobering.

Taking a basket of 4 high profile recent IPOs and filings, the total across the four companies was:

- Trailing twelve month revenues = $319M

- Trailing twelve month EBITDA = -($343M)

- Total venture dollars put into all four companies to date = approximately $1.5B

Like I said, I hope all of these companies do well and grow into great companies. But this type of profile for IPO isn't the norm. So you have to wonder about it.

Someone today mentioned that they think these companies have to IPO now because they need yet more capital and the private equity world is tapped out. I disagree, I think companies with prospects like these would be able to raise more capital, if not from traditional VCs, then from non-traditional private equity players. Cleantech private equity is down, but far from tapped out.

Instead, I believe these companies are IPOing now because they raised their last money under the argument that it would be the "last money before the IPO", and now that the window for IPOs has opened even just a slight bit, they feel compelled to race out there and make it happen. Come hell or high water, this is the promise they've made. And it's a reasonable guess that there are public equities investors out there who do want to back good stories in cleantech -- stories which these companies can indeed tell.

Fingers crossed. But 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 cleantech venture industry, because of the example it sets in terms of lack of exits. In reality, these companies really don't epitomize cleantech venture capital, they're special cases. But to a journalist, it's all just one broad category, and to their editors, nuances never make the headline sing...

(PS: I haven't verified the above stats, so treat accordingly...)

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