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A New Chief Takes Over At Nanosolar

Martin Roscheisen, the outspoken exec that had been leading thin-film solar firm Nanosolar as its CEO over the past eight years, is out. The company, which in September moved into high volume production of its thin-film solar material at its factory in San Jose, Calif., announced this morning that it has hired Geoff Tate, former CEO of chip firm Rambus and senior vice president of chip maker Advanced Micro Devices, (s AMD) as its new CEO.

There’s no mention of the reason for the change in leadership in the company’s statement, and we’re waiting to hear back on the transition from Nanosolar. It’s not uncommon for founders — Roscheisen and Vice President of Corporate Development Brian Sager founded Nanosolar in 2002 — to leave a company as it moves from small startup to large-scale manufacturer. Here’s a 10 question interview with Roscheisen we did back in the Summer of 2007.

It’s also not uncommon for a chip exec to take over the helm of a solar firm. Solyndra founder and CEO Christian Gronet has a Ph.D. in semiconductor processing from Stanford University, spent over a decade at chip company Applied Materials and also founded G-Squared Semiconductor Corporation, which was eventually acquired by Applied Materials. Solar thermal company eSolar brought on John Van Scoter, who has a 25-year career at chip company Texas Instruments, as its CEO recently.

Van Scoter told me in an interview that the dynamics of the solar markets today, remind him of the semiconductor industry of over 25 years ago, right before it took off. “The big breakthroughs have yet to come,” said Van Scoter, adding that the conjoining of factors and mega-trends, from government policy, to energy security, to utility movements toward renewables, “all are coming together.”

Nanosolar has just moved into the stage where it’s got to scale up rapidly to reach economies of scale and grow large to compete. eSolar has also just moved into that phase. First Solar (s FSLR), a chief competitor to Nanosolar, has been scoring utility and commercial solar deals left and right.

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5 Responses to “A New Chief Takes Over At Nanosolar”

  1. Blueman13

    This company has recently let go of the person who was in charge of building the product. He was let go because he was building something other then what was supposed to be built.
    The CFO at that point was asked to put his own money into the company and he left. They have recently let the kitchen staff go and have brought in a horrible replacement who offer terrible food. This company employs some very unprofessional people who make decisions based on personal issues.
    If you are waiting for this company to take off. Good luck…

  2. HealthyBreeze

    The old CEO is gone. He was a cofounder, so personality issues alone wouldn’t have been the reason. Failure to deliver on schedule to those customers with $4.1 Billion in orders would be the reason. Failure to deliver the reference installations and certifications that could allow customers to get bank financing might be part of that. Dunno. My concern is that they are having quality problems in manufacturing, which is not what we wanted to hear 14 months after they claimed to enter production.