San Francisco-based Nextdoor has raised a big $21.3M funding round led by Greylock Partners with existing investors Benchmark, DAG Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Allen & Co. and Pinnacle Ventures, as well as new investors Bezos Expeditions and Google Ventures. The company operates mostly email based social networks for neighborhoods and says it has a foothold in 8K neighborhoods. In our neighborhood the service is broadly used. Most of the posts are about crime. We can see why Nextdoor goes viral — it takes just one person reporting a home invasion and the email about it gets rapid distribution.
One potential headache for Nextdoor is moderation. We read one post by a user asking others what they make of a “creepy bike guy.” It seems like rants could get out of control.
We have not seen ads on the site or email but assume that at some point that will be the business model. If most of the content is about crime that might be a tough sell. They have also started a classifieds section which seems promising given that CraigsList is taking hits over scams.
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A record year for wind energy installations in the United States combined with a relaxing market in China lead to a virtual tie between the two countries for installations in 2012 according to a new report released today by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
China’s annual installations came in at 13.2 gigawatts (GW) during 2012 as the GWEC felt market consolidation and rationalization helped slow the market for wind energy. But the GWEC expects China to continue its dominance of the global wind markets.
The United States installed over 8 GW of wind energy in Q4 2012 due to the anticipated expiration of the U.S. Production Tax Credit at the end of December. Total installations for the year were 13.12 GW bringing the country to a virtual dead heat with China. GWEC believes that the U.S. market will slowdown in 2013.
While Germany and the U.K. led the European markets, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Sweden showed signs of becoming emerging global wind energy players as they developed 12.4 GW. But GWEC believes the European debt crisis will help slow down growth but 2020 renewable energy targets will ensure that the industry still pushes forward.
Wind energy growth remained slow in Latin America as Brazil lead the way with 1.077 GW and Australia was the only country in the Pacific region to install wind energy with a mere 358 megawatts of new capacity.
Overall the report has to be viewed as relatively good news for companies like Siemens (SI :NYSE) and GE (GE :NYSE), as GWEC reported overall cumulative global growth of nearly 10 percent. Considering that offshore wind development increased 41 percent in the U.K. in 2012 and saw gains in most of the countries who develop offshore wind energy, Siemens’ recently announced new offshore wind turbine should find an anxious market when it is produced in 2015.
Shares of Siemens were up 0.56 percent in afternoon trading.
The solar industry may be capturing most of the renewable energy headlines with its volatile share prices and seemingly large deals, but Siemens Energy (SI :NYSE) has been quietly developing a renewable energy empire with its wind turbines. And today they announced the launch of their new 4 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine.
The SWT 4.0-130 was installed in Denmark in December 2012 and has been performing well according to Siemens. The new turbine utilizes three rotor blades that are 63 meters in length, allowing the turbine to sweep an area equivalent to two football fields.
While Siemens has solar power as part of its Energy portfolio offerings, wind turbines are the major revenue generator for this division of the company that realized $44.8 million in revenue during fiscal 2012. Suntech Power (STP:NYSE) only realized $3.146 billion in 2011 and isn’t expected to fair much better in 2012.
Serial production of the SWT 4.0-130 is expected to begin in 2015.
Shares of Siemens were up 1.18 percent in late day trading.
The SWT 4.0-130 in Denmark.
Product reviews continue to be an area of focus for startups. There was news today that product review site GDGT is in talks with AOL about a purchase. Today there is news that LA-based Fresh has raised funding from Yammer founder David Sachs. The Yammer connection is via Yammer Chief Product Officer James Patterson who is a Fresh co-founder.
Fresh thinks it can do better than Amazon reviews by making them more expert. We recently purchased a pocket digital camera and read the Amazon reviews ahead of time. Some were written by experts but most were from people who didn’t know much about digital cameras. So we found that expert sites on digital cameras to be more useful.
Fresh will help product manufacturers to get products in the hands of professional reviewers. Right now it seems that Fresh has more users than products to review as they have users wait in line. We wonder how much success they will have in getting product companies to ship free products for reviews.
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With the share price down over 49 percent since February 2012, Trina Solar’s (TSL :NYSE) investors are clamoring for large deals. And they are receiving one today as the solar manufacturer announced they will be shipping 30 megawatts (MW) of solar modules to South Africa.
Madrid-based Gestamp Solar will take delivery of the modules in Q3 2013 and will install them at a 20 MW plant in Prieska and a 10 MW plant in De Aar. Back in November 2012 the solar developer announced the PPA and $107.8 million financing agreement for the projects.
Investors in Trina Solar should be brightened by the fact that this is the company’s first large order in South Africa. Like most of the solar industry, Trina Solar is being forced to look beyond Europe for customers and potential growth.
South Africa is a viable target as the country expects to install 8,400 MW of solar power by 2030.
Shares of Trina Solar were down 0.81 percent in early afternoon trading.
Geothermal power isn’t as simple as it sounds according to Ormat Technologies (ORA :NYSE) as the company warned investors today that it would be recording a non-cash pre-tax charge of up to $230 million for Q4 12012.
Ormat is having difficulties with its North Brawley power plant that was supposed to reach an output capacity of 50 megawatts (MW). But unfortunately for Ormat and power purchase agreement (PPA) recipient Southern California Edison (SCE) (EIX :NYSE), the plant has been delivering between 20 MW and 33 MW despite increased capital expenditures to improve the situation.
The $230 million impairment charge will cover the entire year of 2012. Ormat had been seeking to avoid this situation next year by renegotiating its PPA with SCE but was unable to reach an agreement. Instead, Ormat has decided to operate the North Brawley plant at 27 MW.
In addition to the North Brawley charge, Ormat announced that it was advised by its parent company to record a pre-tax, non-cash charge in a currently estimated amount of between $30 million and $40 million during the fourth quarter of 2012 for impairment to the company’s Jersey Valley power plant. Ormat has independently conducted its own impairment test for the Jersey Valley power plant and has concluded that no impairment charge is required.
Shares of Ormat were flat in afternoon trading.
San Francisco-based Radius (fka FWIX) has raised $12.4M from American Express with Comcast Ventures, Western Technology Investment and BlueRun Ventures. We had followed FWIX because we were interested in its local data sales business model. Fwix licensed meta-data like street addresses, hours, food offered, etc. as well as local news aggregation. We thought it was an OK business to be in but not great as there are other places to get that data and not an unlimited number of sites that will for it.
So it made sense that Fwix pivoted, changed its name to Radius and is now selling sales data for leads on SMBs. Radius collects data using the filters it set up with Fwix to deliver a dashboard so that sales people can track changes to local businesses. One challenge Radius tackles is that 10% of small businesses move, go out of business are are born each month.
How do you use Radius? You can manage filters like ratings, increasing or decreasing traffic, minority-owned. etc. Fwix says that daily deals companies like Groupon can use Fwix to spot new local companies that are growing fast that might be good partners.
The pivot from Radius to Fwix makes sense as there’s a lot more money in selling tools to sales-people. And we don’t know of a good rival product. The challenge seems to be that is Radius better than a Google search? And how do you sell to sales people who might use the product.
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