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25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech

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Bruce Sohn

Background: President, First Solar

Current: Intel, led the chip manufacturing teams

Sohn has only been with the high-flying publicly-traded thin film solar company First Solar for about a year. But before he joined First Solar in March 2007, he spent 24 years at Intel developing chip manufacturing technology. Sohn’s experience in high volume chip making could help First Solar keep its early lead in thin film technology, as its technology based on cadmium telluride is not the industry’s most cutting edge. First Solar said last week it has raised expectations and thinks its revenue could top $1 billion for the full-year period.

52 Responses to “25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech”

  1. This site is interesting to me as a new student of Going Green & just hearing about Smart electric meters with Googles’ help to see where the money goes regarding power hungry electrical appliances in our home & how we can save as well as consume less energy. People switch careers as that’s where jobs & companies are going – green. Whatever a CEOs gender is shouldn’t debilitate the ability to innovate with any of these 25 CEOs listed.
    If anyone would like to share an alternative mode for watching the spikes in whatever power hog is representative in my home, since our electric company is still in the planning stage, please let me know. Software for monitoring your home for an individual homeowner is expensive & is only part of the monitoring system, I learned today. Thanks to Future Facts for your post.
    Jim, thanks for your imput on computers & Infotech.

  2. elephantman

    Lance – Agassi was never in the rumning. He was Plattners choice, not Kagermanns. Also there are not many Israelis running DAX 30 companies.

  3. Money is fungible! Most of the folks on this list simply switched where they were putting their dollars. I think the more interesting story is about those who switched from IT or other tech careers into working in cleantech roles – not just as CEO or ‘money man.’

  4. lance lee

    Shai Agassi, Founder, CEO Project Better Place.

    i beg to differ….he got passed for the top job at SAP and and no other place to go


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  6. I don’t think ‘jim’ the sarcastic knows what he’s talking about!
    Cleantech, whether it’s building EVs or power plants is a direct result of advances in IT and is directly related. Large scale production of Li-ion batteries for laptop computers and high powered IGBTs from semi conductor companies inspired the first high performance EV demonstrator the tzero. Software will become an increasingly important part of EVs as they become totally dependent on microprocessors to run everything from battery management to their AC motors, brakes and even automated vehicle dynamics.
    How about Sterling solar dishes that have to track the sun from dawn to dusk, only really possible with PID routines run on cheap silicon chips. Even PV solar, which are mostly made from silicon. It’s still all about technological development with what ever the current level of technology allows and it’s the same game of guessing where the future might lead and pushing the state-of-the-art to get an edge on the competition.

  7. Brok Enheimen

    I noticed that most of your stories focus on USA backed companies, but here in Germany there is a very large emerging economy around green science. The University in Salsbury has large green science and economics department. Someone should do a list of which countries are the most green taking education, finance, and law into consideration. You will USA is among the worst.

  8. Something all these infotech people should remember regarding computer technology vs. energy technology:

    Infotech is basically a technology of the abstract: bits per second, operations per second; Gbytes per sector. All of these are abstractions of logical 1’s or 0’s which fundamentally, could be represented with the presence or absence of a single electron. That is to say; their technology is not closely related (at least theoretically) to physical limits, at least not yet anyway.

    Compare this to energy. A watt is a watt. You get something to produce 100 watts; you can’t simply change your lithographing strategy and increase its yield by a factor of 10. You have to fight for every bit of improvement. Welcome to the REAL, real world.

  9. Rory Gawler

    Why are there no women (or very few – some I couldn’t tell) on this list?

    A somewhat sad commentary, is that not?