The Smart Grid Ballers

Last month, GTM Research unveiled its new report, The Networked Grid 150: The End-to-End Smart Grid Vendor Ecosystem Profiles and Rankings. This article is the third in a series of perspectives on the topic from the report’s author. To read the first perspective, click here; the second piece is here.

At the moment, the mantra in smart grid is ‘Software, software, software.’ Across the board, the biggest players are snapping up the most promising software vendors, at a clip we’ve not before witnessed in this industry.

While there have been notable purchases in the past, the acquisition of Ventyx by ABB for over $1 billion (to strengthen the latter’s network management business) was one of the early “Holy cow!” moments. Next was Schneider Electric with its roughly $2 billion takeover of Telvent (soon after having purchased the distribution arm of Areva T&D for more than $1 billion). Meanwhile, GE announced that it was putting much more emphasis on software across the entire company, opening a new facility in northern California and investing as much as $1 billion on software development through 2015. Further, in Q4 2011, GE announced that it is now offering a software-as-a-service solution as part of its solution portfolio, something of a new twist for the industrial giant. GE, it could be argued, has actually been the quietest of the titans on the software-acquisition front. However, having said that, GE did have a nice pickup with Opal at the end of 2010.

Alstom snapped up a gem in Utility Integration Solutions (better known as UISOL) in an early 2011 acquisition. And Siemens, which already has serious grid software operations in place on the wholesale market side, and which in the summer of 2011 invested over $25 million in Tendril Networks, pulled out its smart grid wallet again when it bought eMeter outright in the final days of 2011 for a rumored $200 million.

Not that software has been the only area of interest of late. Cisco Networks acquired wir

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