SolarCity founder will leave Tesla to focus on family and future projects

Lucy Hill
May 17, 2017

Rive, who co-founded the residential solar company with his brother, Peter, in 2006, has often served as the public face of SolarCity in Buffalo.

The SolarCity and Tesla exec told Reuters in an interview Monday he would be leaving his post as head of sales and service at Tesla's energy arm. Musk suggested to Rive during a trip to Burning Man that he start a solar company.

Lyndon Rive, CEO and co-founder of SolarCity, is leaving Tesla in June, not even completing a year after his firm was acquired by cousin Elon Musk. Since past year, SolarCity's former CEO had been serving as head of sales and service for Tesla's energy division.

"I can hand off the baton to somebody else and give myself the opportunity to do something else that could also have another impact", he said.

Over the next decade, SolarCity expanded rapidly with no-money-down financing schemes and a vast sales and installation operation.

Rather, his role and responsibilities will be distributed among Tesla leadership, said a spokesperson for Tesla. Rive was SolarCity's CEO before the company merged with Tesla in November.

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Analysts have argued for several months that last year's Tesla-SolarCity merger is hurting the Silicon Valley vehicle maker's valuation on the market.

Since its acquisition by Tesla, SolarCity had continued to generate substantial losses for Tesla, which however is now part of the company's grand unified vision of providing a vertically integrated "green" transportation and energy conglomerate.

In a statement, a Tesla spokeswoman credited Rive with building SolarCity into the country's top solar provider.

Tesla launched its innovative solar roof tiles last week, a product that generates electricity without traditional rooftop panels.

Although more solar power was brought online nationwide a year ago than any other source of electricity, the number of rooftop solar installations - the focus of residential and business customers - grew 19% compared with 2015. This comes in stark contrast to SolarCity's previous goal of casting a wide net on solar installations, aiming to expand its solar footprint "at any cost".

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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