French Utility Giant Funds Tendril’s European Expansion With $7.2M

Tendril Networks, the Boulder, CO-based company that develops software for the utility industry, announced Tuesday it has received a $7.2 million investment from one of the largest utilities in the world, and that it will use the new money to expand into Europe.

The investment comes from GDF Suez, an international energy provider based in Paris. The company—which has historic roots in the company that built Egypt’s Suez Canal—is one of the largest electricity producers in the world. Backing Tendril is the first investment the company’s venture capital arm, GDF Suez New Ventures, has made in an American company.

Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck said in a release that the deal is the start of the company’s long-planned entry into Europe and its return to international markets.

The round and the expansion is part of a resurgence for Tendril, which makes cloud-based software utilities use to manage and market energy services. Tendril raised more than $100 million in the late 2000s and early 2010s when venture capitalists scrambled to invest in cleantech companies, but in 2012 it downsized and pulled out of international markets as it rebuilt its software.

Last year, Tendril raised $20 million from solar panel manufacturer SunPower.

Tendril’s software is able to predict how much energy residential utility customers will use based on consumer data and a model that takes into account information such as their home’s construction material. Companies can then use the software to sell new products to customers or try to recruit them for energy reduction campaigns. Tendril says it can accurately predict energy consumption with just a property’s address.

GDF Suez CEO Gérard Mestrallet said the investment is part of his company’s move into “smart energy.” Tendril’s software “will enable us to better understand the individual needs of each of our customers” as the company delivers new tailored products and services, he said.

In addition to electricity generation, GDF Suez says it is the world’s largest provider of energy efficiency services, so its interest in Tendril is logical. The company also is one of Europe’s two largest natural gas distributors and formerly was Gaz de France, the state-owned gas utility. The French government still owns a stake in the company.

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