This year wasn't a great one for solar IPOs. Trony Solar, a Chinese developer of a-Si solar panels, is going to hold off on its IPO "until market conditions improve," while Specialized Technology Resources (STR), a maker of encapsulants for protecting solar cells in panels, went public in November but didn't get a strong reception for its stock.

And now, threatening to jump into these tepid waters is CIGS thin-film PV vendor Solyndra (see Solyndra Files to Go Public). And while you were Christmas shopping, we were reading this 190 page document.

There's talk in the blogosphere that this could be the beginning of a flood of greentech IPOs. Before we jump to rosy conclusions, let's take a look at some of the details in the S-1:

  • Solyndra stock symbol: SOLY
  • VC Totals: Through Oct. 3, 2009, Solyndra raised an aggregate of approximately $970 million through equity financings, including a $283 million round E and $281 million round F
  • Staffing: As of Dec. 5, 2009, Solyndra employed 747 full-time employees. 268 in research and development, 364 in manufacturing and operations, 40 in sales and marketing and 75 in G&A, while 238 contract employees are in manufacturing and operations activities.
  • Number of union employees: 0
  • Accumulated Deficit: $505 million as of Oct. 3, 2009
  • Losses: Solyndra lost $232.07 million for the fiscal year 2009, $114.13 million for the fiscal year 2007, and $27.17 million for the fiscal year 2006; the company lost $119.2 million in the first nine months of 2009
  • Revenue: $58.8 million in the first nine months of 2009 up from $6.0 million in 2008
  • Megawatts sold: 17.2 megawatts of panels in the nine months ended October 3, 2009, 1.6 megawatts for the fiscal year ended Jan. 3, 2009
  • Conversion efficiency of PV panels:  ~11-14% under standard test conditions
  • Number of commercial installations: Over 100
  • Customers include Alwitra, Carlisle Syntec Incorporated, Geckologic, Phoenix Solar, Premier Solar Systems, Solar Power Inc., Sunconnex Sun System and USE Umwelt Sonne Energie; According to the prospectus, there are "framework agreements" with system integrators and roofing materials manufacturers outlining general terms for the delivery of up to 865 megawatts of its PV systems by the end 2013 (What's a framework agreement?)
  • Cost of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Fab 2 build: $1.38 billion
  • Mentions of Solyndra's actual price per watt and LCOE: None

Principal Shareholders and Ownership Percentage:

  • Argonaut Ventures – 35.74 percent
  • CMEA Ventures VI – 6.81 percent
  • Dr. Christian Gronet – 8.06 percent
  • Madrone Partners – 11 percent
  • Redpoint Ventures – 5.94 percent
  • RockPort Capital Partners II – 7.5 percent
  • U.S. Venture Partners – 10.19 percent
  • All executive officers and directors as a group – 82.56 percent

Any event that awakens the solar and greentech IPO markets out of its torpor is welcome. But successful companies need profits or a road to profits. With no mention of Solyndra's panel price per watt and only a rough idea of its factory capex (Fab 2 is 500 megawatts at $1.38 billion = >$2 per watt, which is significantly more that c-Si or CdTe) there is not enough information to predict the success of this venture. It is all about cost in solar these days and Solyndra has not yet divulged that information.