Last week, we saw the results of the top 100 corporate citizen ranking from Corporate Responsibility magazine. This week, we have another ranking from VentureSource, a sister of the Dow Jones Company (publisher of the Wall Street Journal). They rated the top venture-backed green companies with the greatest potential to succeed. The top ten which were announced at the Journal’s ECO:nomics conference last week in Santa Barbara, were:
1. Recycle Rewards Inc Administers incentive programs to encourage recycling
2. Suniva Inc.
High efficiency low cost solar PV cells and modules
5. Opower Inc
Utility software helps consumers to save energy
6. GreatPoint Energy Inc
Conversion of coal, coke and biomass to natural gas
7. SeaMicro Inc.
High efficiency, compact servers
8. Boston-Power Inc.
Long-life, green batteries for everything from laptops to cars
9. Luxim Corp.
High efficiency light emitting plasma lighting for streetlights, etc.
10. Sapphire Energy Inc “Green crude” produced from algae, sunlight and CO2.
These were the companies considered “most likely to succeed” in this increasingly competitive sector. The rankings were based on strict criteria including: the amount of capital raised in the past three years; the track records of each company’s founders, managers and investors; and the percentage change in its valuation in the 12 months ended Nov. 30th. These were applied to 516 companies.
Tesla Motors which was ranked number ten last year, essentially graduated from eligibility after issuing its IPO. On the other hand, Solyndra, who was ranked number one last year, did not make the list after a difficult year.
A few days later, the WSJ announced their Next Big Thing, ranking the top 50 venture based companies (valued at less than $1 billion) that were not necessarily green, though they are expected to produce a lot of profit, without any particular regard for people or planet as a criterion for selection. Winners were primarily from the healthcare, mobile communication and business software sectors. From among the green companies listed above, two of them made the top 50. Recycle Rewards Inc. was number 4, while Suniva was rated 38th. Of those reaching the top fifty, twenty-three were in the Information Technology category, and twelve were in Business and Financial Services. So while there is big money to be made in green, the really big money is apparently still elsewhere. Not that the two can’t be combined. Indeed, Recycle Rewards, parent of RecycleBank, which took the top spot in the green rankings, and was number twenty-five in last year’s top fifty, was listed in the Business and Financial Services category.
As green practices and principles make their way into the marketplace, the lines will continue to blur, which is a good thing. It will also mean that evaluating a company’s greenness will require asking deeper questions.