Coatue Leads $250 Million Funding for Solar Software Provider

Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management led a $250 million funding round for software provider Aurora Solar in a bet on surging rooftop-panel installations.

The funding values Aurora, whose platform helps solar companies design and sell systems for homes and businesses, at about $2 billion, the San Francisco-based tech firm said. Other investors included Iconiq Capital, Energize Ventures and Fifth Wall, according to a statement.

While interest in residential-solar is mounting in the U.S. and panel prices are sharply lower than a decade ago, market penetration still remains low in the country. Among the reasons are high customer-acquisition costs. Aurora is focused on using software to reduce those costs.

“We feel like there’s a significant decade-long opportunity for residential solar to really drive a significant higher penetration,” Jaimin Rangwalla, senior managing director at Coatue, said in an interview. “To really penetrate a lot of those states where it’s not economical today, you have to be able to bring the costs down.”

Aurora’s technology is intended to help companies remotely determine how many solar panels fit on a property -- and how much energy a system will produce. The new funding aims to help expand sales and customer support. The company has raised more than $320 million in about two years.

Tech Startups

For its part, Coatue has become a key investor in technology startups, backing big names including Snap Inc. before its initial public offering. Coatue, whose assets have swelled to more than $35 billion, also has stakes in several other pre-IPO companies, including Rivian Automotive Inc. and Databricks Inc.

Last year, the firm raised new funds targeting areas like fintech and smart transportation.

Electrification, including vehicles and panels, as well as software, are among Coatue’s big focuses. It’s an investor in Sunrun Inc., the leading U.S. residential-solar company.

Meanwhile, Coatue’s main hedge fund -- which scored a 65% gain in 2020 thanks in part to investments in tech and private startups -- is up 2.3% in the first four months of the year, according to people with knowledge of its performance, who asked not to be named because the information isn’t public. A spokesman for the New York-based firm declined to comment on performance.

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