NZ Super Fund invests $US75m in Silicon Valley glass technology start-up

NZ Super Fund head of international direct investments Nigel Gormly

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The NZ Superannuation Fund is investing $US75 million in a US-based start-up company that makes high-tech glass.

The investment in View, which makes glass that allows building occupants to control light, glare and preserve views by avoiding blinds and shades, is part of a $US150 million equity raising and will give the NZ Super Fund something less than 10% of the company.

View is headquartered in Silicon Valley, has its manufacturing facilities in Mississippi, was founded in 2006 and had raised $US328 million before this latest funding round.

View’s technology means its glass will automatically react to outdoor conditions and occupants can also manually control the glass using apps on smartphones and tablets or by wall switches.

Its glass is currently installed at more than 120 sites across North America and the company says its use shaves 20% off of annual lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation costs in a typical commercial installation.

NZ Super Fund’s head of international direct investments Nigel Gormly will take a seat on View’s board.

Mr Gormly says the technology has been around for about 40 years but View is the first company to commercialise it and to add smart controls to it.

He won’t say exactly what stake the fund will have but says it will be “a significant minority shareholder.”

The fund has been in contact with View for more than a year and “their progress in the last year has been fantastic,” Mr Gormly says.

The manufacturing facility began operating in November 2012.

Mr Gormly says the performance metrics, such as yield, quality and on-time performance, have improved significantly since the NZ Super Fund began investigating View.

“The company, and what the company needs, really plays to the strengths we bring as an investor,” he says.

“They have a unique product in an area where we see significant growth.”

NZ Super Fund invests only about 1.5% of its portfolio in early-stage companies with strong growth potential, chief investment officer Matt Whineray says.

“They are an appropriate part of the mix for a long-term, diversified investor seeking to maximise returns.”

View did face a lawsuit filed in December 2012 by SAGE Electrochromics which claimed View had infringed its two US patents.

Mr Gormly says that dispute was settled recently.

NZ Super Fund totalled $29.6 billion at the end of May.

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2 Comments & Questions

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When is a start-up still a startup. View has raised $460.2m in eleven rounds since 2009. That seems like a long run way.

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Yes that's a long way from being a startup.
Meanwhile we'd (Punakaiki Fund) love to place $75m amongst a host of very fast growing NZ startups. Deal flow is not a problem. Raising $75m is.

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