Peter Thiel, a recent addition to Donald Trump's transition team, is bringing Trae Stephens, a principal at Thiel's Founders Fund, onto the team, according to Bloomberg. Stephens is on board "to help shape defense and vet Defense Department staff." Thiel has made investments in cleantech and energy including LightSail Energy, Stem, Vivint Smart Home and Transatomic Power, a startup working to commercialize a molten salt reactor. Thiel, known as the "Don of the PayPal Mafia," co-founded PayPal. He was also an early investor in LinkedIn and the first outside investor in Facebook, as well as one of the largest shareholders of Airbnb.

Here's a quote from an essay by Thiel: “Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women [i.e., voting--Ed.] -- two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians -- have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron."

Stem, a player in the commercial-scale energy storage market, named Bill Bush as its new CFO. Prior to joining Stem, Bush served as the CFO of Borrego Solar. Previously, Bush was CFO of Solar Semiconductor, an India-based PV module builder and distributor. Stem claims to have more than 470 systems totaling more than 75 megawatt-hours installed or under contract with customers including Cargill, Wells Fargo, Marriott, Macy’s, Safeway and Whole Foods. Earlier this year, Stem announced a $15 million add-on from Peter Thiel's Mithril Capital Management, bringing its total venture funding to more than $110 million since its founding in 2010. Other investors in the firm include Angeleno Group, Iberdrola and GE Ventures. Stem has also closed on more than $350 million in project financing from Generate Capital, Starwood Energy Group and Clean Feet Investors.

Jim Hughes, former CEO of First Solar, has joined Eos Energy Storage as chairman of the board. Eos builds zinc-based batteries and has raised $50 million from investors including OCI, NRG Energy, AltEnergy and Fisher Brothers. The company has long been targeting a price of $160 per kilowatt-hour for its batteries.   

Sunrun hired Patrick Jobin, former Credit Suisse director, as VP of finance and investor relations. Jobin will operate out of Sunrun’s Denver office and report to CFO Bob Komin. Sunrun continues to post positive news in an edgy residential solar market. Last quarter, Sunrun installed 65 megawatts of residential solar systems, a 69 percent jump. Lynn Jurich, the CEO of Sunrun, noted, "Year-to-date, we have taken market share..,[and] realized a 43 percent year-over-year increase in megawatts deployed, a 53 percent increase in net present value creation, [and] a 10 percent year-over-year improvement in our cost."

Raj Atluru, formerly an investor at Silver Lake Kraftwerk and DFJ, is now managing director at Element Partners LLC, according to his LinkedIn profile. Atluru was an early investor in SolarCity.


Enertech Search Partners, an executive search firm with a dedicated cleantech practice, is the sponsor of the GTM jobs column.

Among its many active searches, Enertech is looking for an Account Manager -- Auto.

The client provides electric vehicle (EV) charging to more people and places than ever before. They operate the world's largest and most open EV charging network and also design, build and support the technology that powers it.

The client is seeking an Auto Sales Director with a successful track record and relevant experience in selling or managing automotive OEM & dealership relationships. In this role you will be also working with VARs/channel partners and developing relationships with automotive OEM stakeholders. Must be creative, independent, focused and an excellent problem solver. Based in Los Angeles.


Marc van Gerven, formerly with First Solar, is now VP of solar at Shell. Van Gerven wrote about First Solar's $848 million deal with Apple for a 130-megawatt solar plant here.

Paul Dickson was promoted to chief revenue officer at Vivint Solar.

Don Peifer is now VP of innovation at Acuity Brands. Previously, Peifer was at Architectural Lighting Works, and before that, at Soraa. He founded Lunera Lighting. Way back in 2009, Acuity bought Sensor Switch, a maker of motion-controlled and programmable sensors, for about $205 million. Acuity Brands also bought Lighting Control and Design, a maker of light-dimming devices, digital thermostats and related software. Adura Technologies, a startup in the networked lighting space, was acquired by Acuity Brands in 2013. Acuity also purchased eldoLED, a maker of LED driver electronics, in 2013, and acquired Distech Controls, a maker of energy management and building controls, for approximately $252 million, in 2015. Acuity now has about 15 brands under its roof, all involved in some aspect of the lighting ecosystem.

From the previous jobs column:

Who will replace nuclear scientist Ernest Moniz as the U.S. energy secretary? We've already reported on the possibility of Oklahoma fracking tycoon Harold Hamm assuming the role. The Associated Press, referencing "transition-planning documents," reported that Trump is also considering North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer (R), investor Robert Grady, and The Nuge to lead either the energy or interior department. 

Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas has added Boris von Bormann, former CEO of Sonnen, as its new CEO. As GTM's Julian Spector just reported, parent company Daimler AG has created Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas to sell stationary storage to the U.S. market. Like Tesla, this is a car company that developed EVs and then put its battery expertise to work in a stationary storage product.

Howard Wenger, SunPower's president of business units and an executive officer at the firm for almost a decade, will be leaving the company. He was on the executive team of PowerLight, which was acquired by SunPower in 2007.