Archive for the ‘VC backed Companies’ category

Cellulosic Ethanol taking off in USA

December 20, 2006

Cellulosic ethanol, the production of ethanol from a number of biomass products i.e. paper sludge, wood chips, switch grass and corn stover, is taking off in the US! Often referred to as the “holy grail” in biomass-to-ethanol, this new approach would allow to use various input sources, not just expensive corn or crops.

One of our Cleantech portfolio companies, Mascoma, operates in this exciting new market. The company (I have written about this new Atlas investment in the past) recently got a contract for $15m from the New York State to build and operate a demonstration facility. Thumbs up on this amazing achievement!

Takeaway: I am confident that European start-ups, entrepreneurs as well as venture capitalists will also embrace the huge opportunity around cellulosic ethanol!

Recommendation: If you are interested in the biomass market in general, you should definitely check out the Biomass Europe in Berlin 2007.

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Update on Isilon IPO!

December 20, 2006

Update on my previous article on our portfolio company Isilon:

The Seattle-based company debuted on NASDAQ on Friday, December 15, 2006 under the symbol “ISLN” and opened at $25, up 92% from its IPO price of $13. It’ll be the third biggest opening day gainer of the year and will have market cap far above $1.4Bn! Atlas Venture V was a founding investor in Isilon in May 2001.

What an amazing year end! Congrats to the whole team involved!

Lilliputian Systems and MicroOptical get recognised as WEF Tech Pioneers 2007

December 14, 2006

Congratulations to two of our portfolio companies, who were nominated recently for the World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer Award 2007:

Lilliputian Systems, one of our Cleantech investments, developing micro-fuel cells for portable devices, Interview with Ken Lazarus, and

MicroOptical, providing a new “viewing” experience for digital content, Interview with Kip Kokinakis – No wonder, Paris Hilton love this product!

Congrats and well deserved to both companies!

BASF fuels its product offering with Pemeas Fuel Cell Technologies

December 14, 2006

A ping by one of the people close to Pemeas Fuel Cell Technologies has alerted me to the recent announcement that BASF is buying Pemeas Full Cell Technologies, a leading company in the fuel cell business. Pemeas was founded in April 2004 as a spin-off of the former Hoechst Group’s fuel cell activities. The company has approximately 50 employees and operates manufacturing and R&D facilities in Germany and in the U.S. The company’s product can be used, for example, in portable electronics, residential applications or backup power systems.

According to industry analysts, the global fuel cell market will grow from €1 billion in 2010 to €21.5 billion in 2020. Fuel cells are environmentally friendly and can operate with a variety of fuels. They can also be used in a wide variety of applications, such as in laptop computers, homes and cars.

Takeaway: From what I heard, the company was considering a listing on the stock exchange in the near future, now the acquisition by BASF comes as a bold move to take advantage of top cleantech technology made in Germany. Good move and congrats to the VC investors BankInvest and SAM Private Equity.

Recommendations: We need more of these cleantech investment / exits here in Europe! The exit channels – no matter if public markets or M&A transactions – are out there!

Datango – Expansion Financing Round to fuel international growth

December 13, 2006

As Valerie has pointed out nicely on her blog, Datango, one of our portfolio companies from the early internet days, has completed a financing round with HassoPlattnerVenture and Extorel. Datango is an interesting turn-around story, which initially started in 1999 providing “web-rides” to consumers. After the burst of the bubble the company transitioned from the B2C space into the B2B space focusing on eLearning.

After the successful acquisition of a distributor in 2004, the company has continued its turn-around and has been on a steady growth path since, primarily focusing on large roll-out projects and applications support systems (a market to be estimated to be worth a few hundred million Euros).

The new investment round signals a continued interest from investors into Datango and this emerging market space. The international market is still untapped and will provide a great opportunity for Datango to grow in the future.

Video copyright – A recent Update!

November 20, 2006

Two recent cases in the online video market, “EMI shuns YouTube for Gotuit“, and “Universal Music sues MySpace“, highlight the fact, that online video copyright is still a huge, unsolved issue out there to be tackled.

Gotuit, an Atlas Venture portfolio company, has succeeded to sign up EMI. Although three other major labels have licensed their music-video catalogs to YouTube in exchange for a slice of the ad revenues, EMI said in an article “that it still had concerns about YouTube’s ability to combat illicit uploads of copyrighted music videos“.

In another case, Universal Music sues MySpace for infringing on the copyrights of its artists. “The world’s largest record company followed through on that threat today, filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against MySpace and its parent company, News Corp. The suit claims that MySpace allows its users to upload videos illegally and encourages that infringement by re-formatting the videos to be played back or sent to others.”

Takeaway: Copyright, and due to the recent video portal hype – video copyright, is still a huge issue out there. A solution, which might entail better licensing deals, further legislation as well as technological innovation in order to not infringe right holders, does not seem to be in place any time soon.

Otherwise Google would not have reserved $500M according to SpiegelOnline against possible copyright lawsuits against its video services. Less than 1/3 it paid for YouTube recently….

Identic Solutions connects with Investors – €10M for Austria-based RFID company

November 16, 2006

IDENTEC SOLUTIONS uses the power of RFID combined with tight infrastructure to deliver real-time information on mobile resources which saves customers millions of dollars in operating costsIdentec Solutions, a provider of RFID solutions based out of pretty Austria, has announced a financing round of €10M. The company designs and markets intelligent long-range asset management system. Lead investor was SAM Private Equity with participation from Sustainable Performance Group, RFID Invest, gcp gamma capital partners (well done Oliver!) and an undisclosed private investor.

Takeaway: Identec Solutions focuses on a multi-billon euro market. According to analysts, the total market for RFID (tags, system, sw, hw, etc.) could account for $24Bn by 2015. However, so far, the expectations in this market have not been fulfilled at all. Pilot projects have been stopped or delayed. Implementation cycles take much longer than planned. Often it is necessary to cover the whole value chain with a solution in order to derive substantial cost savings. The initial hype generated by projects such as by Walmart resulted in partly disappointing results and – not surprising – high costs for suppliers. People and industry experts seem to be much more realistic nowadays in terms of RFID’s potential! Which is good of course!

Recommendations: Although the market might take longer to develop than expected, RFID is clearly one of the leading, pervasive technologies ahead of us. Once the initial pilot projects in various industries have delivered the expected ROI, the world should be poised to see more innovation coming from this sector.