Harga-Blog: Andrew Hargadon is an Associate Professor of Technology Management at the Graduate School of Management at University of California, Davis and author of How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate (Harvard Business School Press 2003). In this blog, he writes about technology innovation and management with an emphasis on sustainable technology. Recent topics include innovation and entrepreneurship, smart design and a discussion of what makes a good idea.
The most recent post on
was December 2010.
There didn't seem to be much at:
one finds -- Page Not Found --
was up-to-date -->
As VentureWire puts it in this article, there’s a new term out there called “the Solyndra Effect,” which describes the sickly feeling that the limited partners of the venture funds that backed Solyndra are feeling right now. The reality is that losses that large can make fund raising really difficult for VCs, particularly in an environment when some funds have struggled to raise money.
Solyndra’s VC and private capital investors include Madrone Capital, RockPort Capital, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, CMEA Capital, Redpoint Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners and Virgin Green Fund. The involvement of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Solyndra’s biggest backer, is the reason why Republicans are calling foul, as Kaiser has supported the Obama administration.
While Solyndra could still sell its assets for some amount of money, not many solar execs and VCs I’ve talked to think the assets are worth all that much.
Solyndra also has reportedly drawn down $527 million of the $535 million loan guaranteed by the Department of Energy. Loan guarantees essentially serve as a promise by the government to make good on a loan if the company can’t, and typically enable better interest rates and lower costs than would otherwise be available to a company for project financing. But Solyndra actually borrowed the loan from the Federal Financing Bank, part of the Treasury Department, so basically the government was acting as a lender to the company directly. So there’s that $527 million to pay back, too, (on top of the $1.1 billion in private funds) if there are any assets out of the Solyndra bankruptcy.
Perhaps you’re wondering how investors could keep funding a company that couldn’t draw enough interest from investors to fulfill its IPO plans back in the Summer of 2010. Beyond the somewhat unexpected change in the economics of the solar industry (panel prices dropped dramatically while Solyndra grew), once investors put money into a company, it can be a difficult decision of when to pull out and when to put in more money.
As recently as March of this year, VentureWire reports that at least three of Solyndra’s backers — Madrone Capital, RockPort Capital and the George Kaiser Family Foundation — put more money into Solyndra in a recapitalization round. When you’re stuck in a hole, sometimes its hard to know if digging is going to help get you out, or send you deeper.