Top 10 VC Recipients of 2010 (So Far)

BrightSource Energy today announced $150 million in new VC funding, which it will use to develop utility-scale solar thermal power plants. A couple of readers emailed to ask if it was the largest venture financing of 2010, or even if it should count as a VC deal (as opposed, say, to project finance).

The answer to the first question is “no” (it’s number four) and the answer to the second question is “yes” (it’s equity being contributed by, among others, traditional venture firms).

But it reminded me that it’s been a while since we updated our list of the year’s top VC recipients (so far). Fairly liberal with the term “venture capital,” but that’s why this is an interim list rather than an official/final list. Get it below:


[slide title=”Better Place”]
Better Place, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based provider of electric vehicle services, raised $350 million in Series B funding at a $1.25 billion post-money valuation. HSBC Group led the round, and was joined by Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Lazard Asset Management and return backers Israel Corp., VantagePoint Venture Partners, Ofer Hi-Tech Holdings, Morgan Stanley Principal Investments and Maniv Energy Capital.

Better Place previously raised $200 million in October 2007. The company plans to develop an electric car network that will lease out batteries that can be exchanged at its own charging stations by all-electric car owners.

[slide title=”2: Pierpoint Securities”]
Pierpont Securities LLC launched as a government securities broker-dealer, with $200 million in capital commitments from General Atlantic and Stone Point Capital. Company management has committed an additional $20 million.

Sure this doesn’t look like a traditional venture deal, but Pierpoint is indeed a startup. Moreover, as Better Place proves, capital-intensivity no longer is inverse to venture legitimacy.

[slide title=”3: Coda Automotive”]
Coda Automotive, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based electric car and battery company, has raised $158 million in equity funding so far this year.

The final $58 million came earlier this week, via a Series C round from Aeris Capital (Switzerland), EDB Investments (Singapore), Countyline LLC (Tony Pritzker and J.B. Pritzker) and Les Wexner (CEO of Limited Brands) and return backers Angeleno Group, Thomas Steyer, Mac Heller, Miles Rubin and John Bryson.

The first $100 million came from undiclosed investors, as part of a $394 million joint venture with Lishen Power Battery (the rest was a credit line).

[slide title=”4: BrightSource Energy”]

BrightSource Energy Inc., an Oakland, Calif.-based developer of utility-scale solar thermal power plants, raised $150 million in Series D funding. Alstom and CalSTRS were joined by return backers VantagePoint Venture Partners, Morgan Stanley and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

BrightSource previously raised $172 million, and ranks third in terms of VC fundraising by private solar companies (Solyndra and NanoSolar are above it).

[slide title=”5: Groupon”]

Groupon, a group buying site, confirmed press reports that it has raised $135 million in new funding. Those reports also pegged the valuation at around $1.2 billion, although valuation is not mentioned in the Groupon press release.

Digital Sky Technologies led the round, and was joined by Battery Ventures. The company previously raised a $30 million round at a $250 million valuation, from Accel Partners and New Enterprise Associates.

[slide title=”6: Amonix”]

Amonix, a Seal Beach, Calif.-based maker of concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems, raised $129.4 million in Series B funding.

Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers led the round, and was joined by Adams Street Partners, Angeleno Group, PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund, Vedanta Capital, New Silk Route The Westly Group. Return backer MissionPoint Capital Partners also participated.

[slide title=”6: ExteNet Systems”]
ExteNet Systems Inc., a Lisle, Ill.-based network infrastructure company, raised $128.4 million in new funding. Soros Fund Management and SBA Communications were joined on the deal by return backers Centennial Ventures, Columbia Capital, Sevin Rosen Funds, CenterPoint Ventures and Palomar Ventures.

The company previously raised around $64 million since 2004.

[slide title=”8: Fisker Automotive”]
Fisker Automotive, an Irvine, Calif.-based electric vehicle maker, raised $115.3 million in new VC funding. Backers include A123 Systems, Ace Investments and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The A123 investment was $23 million, and came as part of an agreement whereby A123 will provide power packs for a rechargeable luxury car Fisker plans to launch later this year (Fisker Karma).

Fisker previously raised more than than $160 in VC funding, from firms like Kleiner Perkins, Eco-Drive (Capital) Partners, Palo Alto Investors and Al Ghaffara Investment Co. It also recently secured a $528 million low-cost loan from the Department of Energy, which was conditioned on the company raising additional private equity.

[slide title=”9: Yelp”]
Elevation Partners agreed to invest up to $100 million into Yelp, a San Francisco-based local search and review site. This includes an initial investment of $25 million in Series E stock, with the remainder to come via a planned purchase of shares from vested employees and other shareholders.

Yelp previously raised around $31 million, from firms like Benchmark Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and DAG Ventures.

[slide title=”10:”]
UStream, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of an interactive video broadcast platform, raised $20 million in Series B funding from Softbank, at a post-money valuation of approximately $145 million. The deal rises to #6 because Softbank also has the option to invest another $55 million, while UStream says it plans to expand the round via “pending” commitments from other investors in Asia and the U.S.

Ustream previously raised over $11 million from DCM Capital and Band of Angels. 

[slide title=”11: Achaogen”]
(Did one extra, just to get a healthcare company in here) Achaogen, a San Francisco-based developer of antibiotics to treat life-threatening, multi-drug resistant bacterial infections, raised $65 million in Series C funding. And a good thing too, because we were running out of time to get a healthcare company on this list.

Frazier Healthcare Ventures led the round, and was joined by Alta Partners and return backers 5AM Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, Domain Associates, Venrock Associates, Versant Ventures and the Wellcome Trust. The company previously raised around $42 million.