Stephen Lacey over at Greentech Media pulled the top cleantech companies out of Inc. magazine’s top 5,000. Inc.’s list differs from other traditional business ranking lists in that it is primarily concerned with revenue growth. It wants to know who’s growing.This gives some unusual results in that a company that does a couple hundred thousand in revenue one year but then breaks out with $30 million in revenue the next winds up atop the list. But that’s sort of the point, to highlight who’s coming up fast.
Software development outfit Sparc, which has done some work for companies in clean energy, ranked highest among cleantech companies at #14. And smart grid networking provider Silver Spring Networks came in at #46 as its revenue jumped from $3 million in 2009 to almost $200 million last year (the company just got punished by Wall Street for turning in less than stellar Q2 earnings).
What struck me looking over the list was how many companies there were that were in the business of solar installation, software services supporting construction and engineering of solar, and access to financing. Those companies included A&R Solar, SimpleRay, Sol Systems and Solar Alliance of America. The sheer number of companies in this space and their impressive growth rates suggests both that solar growth is solid and that there’s room for a national company to step in and put multiple services under one price competitive brand. We may find ourselves in a world with many regional players that service different parts of the value chain, but I think companies like First Solar and SolarCity may someday try to change that.