As I started writing, I realized that the normal metrics for gradingVCs — IRR, quality of exits, etc. — don’t apply to today’s solarinvestors, at least not in any meaningful way. The fact is that verylittle, if any, of the billions of VC dollars put into solar in the last few years have yielded the type of results that VCs look for.
You’d have to go back to SunPower, Suntech, First Solar, Evergreen Solar and GT Solar to cite solar firms that have yielded successful IPO exits. Those companies, save for Evergreen, were not funded by your standard Sand Hill Road-type venture firms. The Communist Party was Suntech’s largest investor while members of theWalton Family sustained First Solar. T.J. Rodgers rescued SunPower with a $750,000 investment (written on a personal check) in 2001 after the company got rejected up and down the valley.
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