23. Bloom Energy

Helping companies like Apple get off the grid

Founders: K. R. Sridhar (CEO), John Finn, Matthias Gottmann, James McElroy, Dien Nguyen
Launched: 2001
Funding: $1.06 billion (PitchBook)
Valuation: $3 billion (PitchBook)
Disrupting: Energy, utilities
Rival: Legacy electric grid

George Kavallines

For more than 16 years, Bloom Energy's aim has been to supply customers with cleaner, more reliable energy. The Sunnyvale, California-based company, led by co-founder and CEO K. R. Sridhar, uses fuel cells to convert natural gas into electricity and then places those power-source units in office buildings, retail stores, data centers and universities. Among its customers: Apple, eBay, FedEx and CalTech.

Read More FULL LIST: 2017 DISRUPTOR 50

In October the company announced an alliance with PowerSecure, a subsidiary of utility giant Southern Company, that will include an investment and joint technology development of an integrated fuel cell and storage solution. PowerSecure will acquire an estimated 50 megawatts of Bloom Energy Servers under a long-term agreement.

Over the past year, the company has supplied its fuel cells to power IKEA stores in California and Connecticut, enabling the retailer to drastically reduce its carbon footprint. It also completed the project to power Morgan Stanley's headquarters in Times Square in New York City. Investors, such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Goldman Sachs and New Enterprise Associates have put up more than $1 billion since the company started in 2001, According to PitchBook, and General Colin Powell is on the board of directors.

There has been no shortage of speculation about when the company will go public. In late 2016 the Wall Street Journal reported that the company filed a confidential registration with the SEC for an IPO. Companies with less than $1 billion in revenue can register privately with the SEC. With the global market for electric power a $2-trillion-a-year industry and estimated to grow 80 percent by 2040, the company is moving in the right direction.

Latest Special Reports

  • Long-standing, global norms in economics and politics have been overturned in recent years. In a world still defining new conventions, Investing in Supertrends takes a look at what’s next for markets and economies.

  • A look at 50 private companies set to reshape the business landscape.

  • For investors who are addressing social and environmental issues, while generating financial returns.