Back in September, we reported that Joseph Laia's role as CEO of solar firm MiaSolé was going to be short lived. (See Intel Inside, Joesph Laia Outside.)
We received the usual disingenuous protestations from company management and its PR appendages that this was a positive move and that Mr. Laia was happy to be receiving outside help.
We had learned from several dependable sources, both inside and outside of the company, that the Intel influence in the company was to become even more prominent. Joseph Laia would retain his CEO title for the time being, albeit in a diminished capacity.
Bob Baker, Intel’s top manufacturing executive until his retirement in February, stepped into the role of President.
The other shoe dropped today.
John Carrington assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer at MiaSolé, the third gentleman to assume that position since the firm's founding. Carrington was EVP of global marketing and business development at First Solar and before that at General Electric. Bob Baker continues as President of the CIGS solar firm.
Martin Lagod, Managing Director and co-founder of Firelake Capital Management, on behalf of the MiaSolé board of directors, said something obligatory about thanking Laia for his contributions to the firm. In fact, MiaSolé raised its efficiency and got its manufacturing act together under Laia's leadership.
Boardroom shakeups and upper management moves are standard affairs at all growing companies. This might not reflect at all on MiaSolé's current performance. We continue to hear good things about the firm's performance -- namely, that MiaSolé is producing modules at a record rate of about 15,000 per week. We understand that modules are commercially available at efficiencies flirting with 13 percent. The company has told us that it has "a recipe that will deliver over 14 percent" for modules.
MiaSolé is going to have to raise more venture funding -- and soon, and the new management will be helpful in this regard. Laia was good at execution but was reputably less than good at managing his board and minding the morale of his employees.
MiaSolé shipped 22 megawatts in 2010 and has a goal of shipping 80 megawatts in 2011.
Rob DeLine, MiaSolé's VP of Marketing expects capacity to be 150 megawatts by the end of the year -- all in Silicon Valley.
Funding, Board, and Competitors
MiaSolé raised most of a $125 million round F in February at a pre-money valuation of $550 million. New investors included Voyageur Mutual Funds III, joining existing investors Kleiner Perkins, Firelake Capital, and VantagePoint Venture Partners. Board members include KP's John Doerr, Firelake's Marty Lagod, VantagePoint's Stephan Dolezalek, and Rob Chandra of Bessemer.
MiaSolé has proven it can build CIGS panels at decent efficiency. The firm has had some positive announcements, such as working with Wal-Mart and SolarCity, as well as the inevitable speed bumps, including a patent issue with Solannex. MiaSolé has signed a 50-megawatt contract with solar project developers juwi Solar.
We've reported on CIGS aspirant Solar Frontier's one-gigawatt factory. AQT recently shipped its first CIGS solar panels. Other CIGS vendors include Stion, NuvoSun, NanoSolar, SoloPower, Global Solar Energy, ISET, HelioVolt, and Ascent.
MiaSolé would appear to be one of the leaders in the CIGS race.
As always, it comes down to price per watt and LCOE, and MiaSolé still has to prove it can compete on those performance metrics with First Solar and Yingli while making a sustainable margin as panel prices continue to drop.