Clean-techs get cold feet going public

The logo of electric car manufacturer Tesla

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Tomorrow, electric vehicle company Tesla Motors
will become the first U.S. carmaker to go public since Ford. Tesla is one of several clean-tech companies trying to go public. The problem is, many of them are getting cold feet.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Rob Schmitz reports.


Rob Schmitz: Now you see 'em, now you don't. A bunch of clean-tech start-ups recently filed paperwork to be publicly traded, only to cancel at the last minute. Solar panel company Solyndra was the latest, performing an about-face two weeks ago.

Greentech's Eric Wesoff says all these companies have one thing in common.

ERIC WESOFF: None of them are making money. None of them are profitable, and none of them will be profitable in the foreseeable future.

And this makes investors nervous. So, the venture capital crowd is pushing many clean-tech companies out of the IPO gate prematurely, says Wesoff.

WESOFF: Venture capitalists, when they make an investment in a start-up, have very strong expectations of an exit from these companies. And that exit can come through either an IPO or through an acquisition or a merger with a larger company.

Wesoff says there's one more problem: Washington lacks a clear road map for a stable clean-tech market. All the more reason venture capitalists will be keeping an eye on Tesla's ticker symbol starting tomorrow.

I'm Rob Schmitz for Marketplace.

About the author

Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.

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