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In the News

News from April, 2008

Mariah Power gets funding, prepares for global rollout

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Since Mariah Power reworked the design of its residential and commercial wind power appliance — the Mariah Power Windspire — representatives of 37 countries want to sell or manufacture the product, says Mike Hess, chief executive officer.

The Reno company has attracted an additional $500,000 in seed-stage funding from Big Sky Partners of Los Angeles and Greenhouse Capital Partners of Sausalito, Calif.

Executive have said the company needs to raise $10 million in venture capital this year, following the $750,000 in angel funding that it raised from the Sierra Angels and the Keiretsu Forum.

Last year, after installing a few sites for beta tests, the company halted production to retool the product for greater efficiency. This year, it hired Robert Holland, based in Palo Alto, Calif., as vice president of global sales.

“Bob will help us put our channel strategies together — electricians, wind installers, contractors. I’ve known him 20 years; he’s a first-rate mind who will help us put our strategy together,” Hess says.

The company also has added Michael B. Schwab, managing director of Big Sky Partners, to its board. Mariah expects to break even in 18 months, when sales support production, says Hess. (Full Article)

Green Pay Day

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Celebrating the reality of green-collar jobs on Earth Day.

There’s lots of buzz about green-collar jobs these days (sort of like blue-collar jobs, but with a sustainable edge) — whether you’re listening to Obama, McCain, or Clinton; Gregoire, Kulongoski, or Schwarzenegger.

You hear this kind of thing a lot: A study conducted by the RAND Corporation and the University of Tennessee found that producing 25 percent of all American energy fuel and electricity from renewables by the year 2025 would produce the following: “$700 billion of new economic activity, carbon emission reduction by 1 billion tons, and 5 million new jobs.”

Fine and dandy, but, some might ask “where are those five million new jobs? When will we see them?” Some skeptics have begun to ask whether it’s not bordering on hype.

Big projections are just that — big projections. But there’s nothing like local industry reporting 2000 new jobs here and 500 jobs there — right in our neck of the woods — and a steady stream of investment dollars, to keep skeptics pondering the possibilities.

So, we’re happy to report a real-live green-collar workforce is materializing in the Northwest, and it’s likely the wave is just gathering strength. With more policy measures encouraging green-tech investments and training programs it could swell to something much bigger. Looking at Oregon’s green-collar boom, Ted Sickinger of the Oregonian calls it a “small tsunami.” (Full Article)

Leader Ventures Provides $5 Million in Equipment Financing to MobiTV

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

— Leader Ventures, an investment firm offering blended debt and equity financing, announced today that it has provided $5 million of equipment financing to MobiTV, the leading provider and platform for content delivery over mobile and broadband networks.

“Millions of subscribers enjoy mobile and broadband entertainment services,” said Patrick Gordan, managing director at Leader Ventures. “MobiTV gives wireless carriers and other operator partners the ability to deliver content almost anywhere,” Gordan added.

“We are delighted to be working with Leader Ventures on our equipment financing,” said Charlie Nooney, chief executive officer and chairman of MobiTV. “As we continue to expand our footprint and bring our services to an even larger audience, new equipment is essential to our goals of improving the performance of mobile television’s content delivery infrastructure and delivering a richer, more rewarding media experience to viewers.”

MobiTV is a leader in mobile content and services, developing and offering technology that powers an end-to-end managed network for content ingestion, encoding and optimized delivery over mobile and broadband networks. MobiTV’s platform technology delivers live television, premium and primetime programming, video-on-demand, satellite and digital music services from top broadcast and cable television networks and major music labels through its carrier and operator partners to more than three million subscribers worldwide. (Read More)

Changing the Current

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

State Environmental Laws Drive Power Producers to Renewable Resources

The Imperial Valley of California is ideal country for solar and wind power. It rains less than three inches a year. Temperatures hit 110 degrees in the summer. The wind blows pretty steadily, too. And it’s just east of San Diego.

Now, because of a California law requiring utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010, this untapped renewable-energy basin has caught the attention of Sempra Energy. The utility, based in San Diego, gets only 6 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, so it has proposed building a transmission line to bring solar power from the desert to the city.

California is one of 25 states that have adopted laws that require electric utilities to use more renewable resources, and that has sent utilities scrambling to line up wind and solar projects across the country. Electric utilities that have long relied on coal, nuclear energy and natural gas to power their generating plants are buying into biomass projects from Minnesota to Virginia, solar plants in the deserts of California and Arizona, and wind farms from Maine to West Texas.

Yesterday, Dominion, a utility based in Richmond, said it would work with BP’s alternative-energy unit to develop, own and operate wind farms in Virginia, part of an effort to meet a goal of getting 12 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2022.

“There is a lot of opportunity for wind projects in Virginia, and we would hope we’d be able to bring a lot to the table working with BP,” said Mark McGettrick, president and chief executive of Dominion Generation. McGettrick said the company was looking at several sites in western Virginia and onshore near the coastline. (Full Article)

SalesView from InsideView: feature or product?

Monday, April 21st, 2008

I’ve had several conversations with InsideView in an effort to understand how its recently released SalesView product fits into the scheme of enterprise applications. Described as leveraging the convergence between social media and enterprise applications, SalesView is designed to provide sales people with fine grained information about prospects. The theory runs that the more information at a salesperson’s fingertips, the less likely they are to waste time and the better equipped they are to handle sales prospects.

SalesView provides sales people with details about who they’re talking to at the point when that information is needed. This will typically occur in a call center but could easily apply to the lone salesperson. It acheives this by mashing up internal, structured sales information from whichever CRM system it is integrated ( or sugarCRM right now with more to come) with some 20,000 external data sources. These sources include paid subscriptions like D&B and Hoovers along with unstructured sources like publicly accessible blogs and wikis. The software then applies some intelligence to ensure the aggregated data relates precisely to the person concerned. (Full Article)

NAB 2008: MobiTV Moves Into Server Technology’s Heavyweight Division

Friday, April 18th, 2008

With the introduction of its Optimized Delivery Server at NAB, MobiTV is going head-to-head with the likes of Real and Microsoft in the mobile video server market.
MobiTV, Inc., “arguably, operates the largest mobile TV service in the world,” according to Paul Scanlan, who is the company’s President and Co-founder. Sure, every company likes to boast about being a market leader, but in this class of service providers MobiTV is probably the champion of its division. After all, the company delivers video content to more 3 million mobile phone subscribers, including customers of Sprint/NexTel and AT&T. But this week at NAB it moved up into the heavyweight division of streaming server technology providers (a division that also includes the likes of Microsoft and Adobe), when it announced its Optimized Delivery Server at NAB this week.

According to MobiTV’s press release, its Optimized Delivery Server is scalable, secure and optimized server software for the distribution of enhanced live and downloadable media over broadband and wireless networks. The company plans to license this technology to others. (Full Article)

They Call the Small-Wind Firm Mariah

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Nevada-based Mariah Power has developed a propeller-free turbine that turns wind — which sets the clouds a-flyin’ — into energy.

Mariah Power claims its spire-shaped turbines can cut costs 44 percent, compared to propeller-based systems.

Fans might think of the Western comedy musical “Paint Your Wagon” as one of Clint Eastwood’s least Clintwoodian films, as the film that turned Lee Marvin’s voice into a hit in Europe or the film that inspired the Simpsons’ “All Singing, All Dancing” episode.

But it’s a lesser-known fact that one of its songs, “They Call the Wind Mariah” — an ode to a wind strong enough to blow the stars around and set the clouds a-flyin’ — also is the melodic inspiration behind the naming of a small-wind-power developer called Mariah Power.

Founded in 2005, the Reno, Nev.-based startup has been trying to harness air currents and turn them into energy for residential and commercial markets.

The company has caught the eyes of investors and government alike. The company this month said it had closed $500,000 in funding on the way to raising a round of up to $10 million (see Mariah Power Gets a Gust of Financing).
In March, the company was selected to demonstrate its turbine on the National Mall next to the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The demonstration will be part of the “One Planet — Ours! Sustainability for the 22nd Century” exhibit starting in May at the U.S. Botanical Garden.

And later this month, the company expects to deliver its turbine, the Windspire, to its first customer. (Read Full Article)

Attracting Jobs in a Competitive World

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Oregon has been the target of surprisingly strong interest from the newly emerging photovoltaic solar industry. With the arrival of Solaicx in Portland and SolarWorld in Hillsboro, the state can actually brag about becoming the solar manufacturing capital of North America. Not bad for a place where many of us spend much of our time complaining about the rain. So what are the factors that have led to this level of success so quickly?

A major reason is the long-term presence in Oregon of a silicon-based semiconductor industry led by Intel and others. This existing industry has prepared an experienced and well-trained work force adaptable to manufacturing silicon solar cells. Longstanding public-private partnerships with Portland State University and Portland Community College have helped develop a higher-ed curriculum that has supported the transition for our local students into these manufacturing jobs. Those partnerships are now extending into exciting new “green collar” job opportunities. (Full Article)

InsideView Wins Beagle Research Group’s 2008 WizKid Award

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Highlights InsideView as Helping Take CRM to the Next Level and Giving Customers a Competitive Advantage in the Sales Process

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwire) – InsideView today announced it has been named a recipient of Beagle Research Group’s 2008 WizKid Award. Since 2004, the WizKid award has annually recognized some of the best and brightest leaders in CRM. This year, InsideView was one of seven companies honored for reinventing business processes in their specific industries.

Selected by Beagle Research Group, a consulting and market research organization focused on emerging companies and technologies, InsideView won top marks based on Rearden Commerce’s deployment of the company’s unique on-demand Business Search and Intelligence SalesView application. Beagle Research penned a report showcasing Rearden Commerce’s experience with InsideView, detailing its implementation, ease of use and integration within Salesforce. The report is available at:

Rearden uses InsideView’s SalesView application to bring insight gained from subscription-based and user-generated sources to the enterprise. As one of the first socialprise applications, SalesView aggregates and delivers relevant customer data, through specialized research providers and social networks, within a customer relationship management (CRM) application. (Full Article)

Mariah Power Announces Investment Partners and Expansion of Executive Team and Board of Directors

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Working towards the formal launch of Windspire, a residential and commercial wind power appliance, Mariah Power has announced it has expanded its executive team, investment partners, and board of directors. Michael B. Schwab, managing director of Big Sky Partners, will join the board as part of an additional round of seed stage funding by Big Sky Partners and Greenhouse Capital Partners.

Mariah Power has also announced that twenty-year sales veteran Robert Holland has been named vice president of global sales.

These appointments follow Mariah Power’s recent announcements that it has completed ETL certification on Windspire in anticipation of launching the Windspire to market this spring.

Michael Schwab is an active investment professional with nearly a decade of experience investing in, and mentoring, early stage companies through every stage of company growth and development.

Since founding Big Sky in 1999, Mr. Schwab has remained disciplined in his investment approach across all 18 portfolio company investments, and has recently focused Big Sky’s investment strategy on emerging cleantech and green technology startups, as well as high growth Web 3.0 startups.

In addition to Mariah Power, Mr. Schwab sits on the Board of Directors of MongoNet and Solaicx, and is also a Partner in Greenhouse Capital Partners.

“Mariah Power is exactly the type of cleantech investment we are interested in, a high growth business with a unique market opportunity, exceptional management and a global focus.

“We feel Mariah has the potential to become a dominating force in ‘small wind’ and look forward to the company’s exceptional growth curve in the US and abroad,” says Schwab. (Full Article)

Small wind: Mariah Power lands cash for spire-shaped turbine

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Mariah Power said on Wednesday that it has raised additional funding to bring its small wind turbine to market.

The company said it has secured $500,000 in funding from venture capital firm Big Sky Partners. As part of the investment, Michael Schwab of Big Sky Partners will join Mariah Power’s board.

Mariah Power, based in Reno, Nev., makes a ground-mounted vertical-axis wind turbine that is designed for people’s homes or businesses. It’s expected to be available later this month for about $4,000.

Company Mike Hess told Greentech Media that its forthcoming spire-shaped Windspire turbine can generate one third of the home’s electricity use.

The business of building wind farms with giant turbines is booming. But the world of small wind is getting more attention.

Marquiss Wind Power in January raised a Series A round to build up its square-shaped turbine meant for placement on top of the flat roofs of commercial buildings.

Southwest Wind Power, which raised a series B round of $6.5 million last year, makes a ground-mounted propeller-type turbine for individual homes or business.

Mariah Power Gets a Gust of Financing

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

The small-wind turbine maker grabs $500,000 to get its spire-shaped turbines onto the market.

Small-wind turbine startup Mariah Power has raised $500,000, CEO Mike Hess told Greentech Media this week.

The investment, from Greenhouse Capital Partners and Big Sky Partners, brings Mariah’s total capital to $1.25 million. Last year, the Reno, Nev.-based company raised $750,000 in angel funding led by the Sierra Angels and the Keiretsu Forum (see Cleantech Investing post).

Hess said Mariah will spend the latest chunk of change on manufacturing 50 models of its first product, a small-wind turbine for the residential and commercial markets called Windspire.

Hess said Mariah is seeking more cash and expects to close a round in the range of $5 million to $10 million by June.

Unlike larger traditional wind turbines that use propellers similar to those on airplanes to generate electricity, Mariah Power uses a 30-foot-tall spire that has a 2-foot radius.

Hess expects to begin shipping the first Windspires around April 18.

So far the company has 1,200 preorders for the device, which produces about 1,800 kilowatt-hours per year in 11 mph average winds. By Mariah’s calculations, the company’s turbine is capable of generating a third of the electricity for a U.S. single-family home.

The Windspire will have a price tag of $3,995, with installation adding another $1,000.

Without government incentives, most customers will see a return on their investment, in the form of lower electricity bills, in about 10 years — about half the expected life of the turbine, Hess said.

With government assistance, which can vary from state to state, the financial dynamic can change greatly. For example, customers in California could see a payback in 4.2 years, Hess said.

Although it hasn’t received as much attention or financial support as large-scale wind, small wind has been gaining more traction.

Companies like Marquiss Wind Power, which raised $1.3 million in its first round of financing in January, and Southwest Windpower, which was named one of the 100 fastest-growing energy companies by last year, also are vying for a big piece of the small-wind action.

GroSolar Tapped for Marshfield’s ‘green’ Plan

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Solar distributor GroSolar Inc. has been named the exclusive provider of photovoltaic systems for Marshfield’s “Green Energy Challenge,” a $4 million pilot program sponsored by electric utility NStar and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

Executives at White River Junction, Vt.-based GroSolar call the partnership with NStar a rare occurrence in the industry, but a step in the right direction.

“It’s great to see two companies that are usually at the opposite ends of the energy spectrum working together on something like this,” said Kelli Pippen, marketing director at GroSolar.

The program is aimed at providing Marshfield residents with affordable energy-efficiency options, including individual energy audits, advanced demand control products and solar power. The initiative will include 1,200 homes, which will receive free energy audits, 500 of which will be eligible to receive free “smart thermostats” and 30 of which are targeted for solar-power systems. Under terms of the program, and in conjunction with additional state and federal incentives, residents and commercial sites in Marshfield can install photovoltaic systems for about one-third of the typical cost, or about $7,300, according to Pippen. (Full Article)