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January 2014

How Nest Labs, Uber & View Cleaned Up in 2013

How Nest Labs, Uber & View Cleaned Up in 2013

And what it means for cleantech investing prospects in 2014.

You could say cleantech startups started 2014 off with a bang – a big one – as Google shelled out $3.2 billion in cash for home automation company, Nest Labs. This deal isn’t just big news for Nest, it’s big news for home efficiency and green app companies who see it as the start of more promising investment in the New Year.

To see what lies ahead in 2014, we looked back at three cleantech companies who won big in 2013.

Nest Labs: Former Apple Innovator, Tony Fadel serves as CEO of the home automation company, known mainly for their eco-smart thermostats and smoke alarms. Nest’s programmable thermostats use auto-scheduling technology to learn users’ daily habits to modulate heating and cooling, while maximizing energy efficiency. The company secured over $80 million in investments in 2013 before striking startup gold with their recent acquisition by the guys at Google.

View: The Silicon Valley startup manufactures “smart windows,” capable of absorbing varying amounts of light to provide energy efficient thermal management. In early January 2014, View raised $100 million from private equity firm, Madrone Capital Partners (associated with the Walton family), in order to boost production of its patented View Dynamic Glass technology. What piqued investors’ interests? The new technology senses incoming light to automatically transition between four different tints, which reduce heat and glare. Over the past year, View has installed its smart windows into roughly 50 locations across North America including colleges, hospitals, and hotels.

Uber: The car-sharing mobile app, which allows users to hail rides from nearby drivers, secured $258 million in investments in 2013. The San Francisco startup has sparked controversy from legislators and taxi-drivers regarding its low-fares. However, last September the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved ridesharing services, marking a milestone in Uber’s development.

With the recent influx of green innovations (and new funding), 2014 is shaping up to be a breakthrough year for cleantech.

Produced by Remi Dalton

Electric Vehicles Unplugged?


Where these next-generation electric cars are going, we don’t need plugs.

In late 2013, Yelloblu reported on the state of the electric vehicle (EV) market, highlighting how improved access to EV charging stations could make eco-friendly cars more appealing to consumers.

Frustrated by the continued lack of convenient charging stations, some automakers are looking to remove the need to plug in altogether and see more sustainable energy sources as the key to EV proliferation.

This past week at CES 2014, for example, Ford unveiled its newest electric concept car, which boasts a series of solar roof panels built into the C-MAX plug-in hybrid.

Solar and EVs might seem like an obvious match, but even after spending an entire day in the sun, the power generated is negligible. Toyota’s solar-paneled Prius, for instance, can only harness enough solar energy to run its ventilation fan.

To help resolve low output, Ford’s latest prototype pairs their solar car with a specially designed car canopy comprised of an acrylic roof called a “Fresnel lens.” Similar to a magnifying glass, the Fresnel lens concentrates the sun’s rays during peak hours and transfers them directly onto the vehicle’s solar panels, boosting the impact by a factor of eight.

Additionally, as the sun moves across the sky, Ford’s prototype is able to independently move back and forth under the canopy – ensuring it’s maximizing energy as the sun passes overhead.

After 6 hours of magnified charging, the Ford hybrid is said to be capable of traveling up to 21 miles, a range that covers the average trek for over half of the country's commuters.

While relying on a specially designed solar canopy isn’t exactly cost effective, it’s a step in the right direction and a promising development for the electric car market. And as the price of solar panels continues to fall, we're getting much closer to spending less plug-in time and more travel time away from the grid – at least, until sunset.

Produced by: Patrick French