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Sonoma County firms snare $110M venture capital

  • Petaluma resident Magnus Asbo, has an Environ Smart Thermostat made by Enphase Energy in his home. The thermostat is a solar integrated smart thermostat.

Sonoma County technology companies raised nearly $110 million in venture capital during the second quarter, as the sector continued its rebound from last year's slump.

U.S. startups had their best funding quarter since mid-2008, just before Wall Street's historic meltdown, said Jessica Canning of Dow Jones VentureSource, which tracks private equity deals.

"Venture capital had a strong quarter," she said. "Deal activity is once again near levels seen before the start of the recession."

Sonoma County tech startups raised just $60 million during the same period last year.

Green technology, information technology and biotech attracted most of the funding nationwide, according to VentureSource's survey.

Enphase Energy, a Petaluma startup that makes energy-efficient microinverters for solar power systems, was a top recipient last quarter. It raised $46 million, according to a filing with U.S. securities regulators.

"We're the fastest-growing inverter company in the world," Enphase CEO Paul Nahi said Wednesday. Enphase solar microinverters increase a system's energy output from 5 to 25 percent, the company said.

Since Enphase launched its product line in 2008, it has sold more than 300,000 microinverter systems. "We had 13 percent market share in the U.S. in the first quarter," Nahi said. "We're looking at record sales every quarter."

The startup's latest funding round included an investment from Kleiner Perkins, one of Silicon Valley's leading venture capital firms.

Earlier this month, Enphase unveiled a "smart" solar thermostat that allows users to manage their solar, heating and cooling systems on a single Web-based platform.


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