This Summer’s Hottest People News in Cleantech

After Big Financing, SunRun Makes 2 Big Hires, Aug. 5

SunRun, one of the many companies competing to bring distributed solar to American homes, announced it has hired Thomas J. Holland to be the company’s new Chief Operating Officer and Anne Brennan as Chief Financial Officer. Holland formerly led the San Francisco office of the consulting firm Bain & Company, and Brennan is moving from Unwired Planet, a mobile technology company. SunRun, whose backers include Sequoia Capital and Foundation Capital, has raised a total of $2 billion, including $630 million in financing raised at the end of July to fund further residential installations.

Navy Hires New Alt-Energy Czar, Aug, 2

Dennis McGinn, former president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), was confirmed unanimously by the Senate to become assistant secretary of the Navy for energy. He will play a pivotal role in trying to meet the Obama administration’s stated goal that the Navy will get half its energy from nontraditional sources by 2020, including the use of biofuels to power much of the fleet.

ACORE’s board of directors announced on July 29 that they hired Michael R. Brower, Mosaic Federal Affairs’ Senior Federal Policy Director and Principal and ACORE board member, as their interim CEO while they seek a permanent replacement for McGinn.

Cycle Capital Hires Patent Warrior, July 23

Louis Carbonneau, who has played a major role in the computer industry’s crippling patent wars as founder and CEO of Tangible IP, a consulting firm focused on intellectual property, joined Cycle Capital Management as a venture partner. He will continue his work leading Tangible as well as his technology law firm, The Point Law Group. Cycle Capital Management recently closed on its third fund, which will invest $100 million in cleantech companies.

Girish Paranhpe Leaves Bloom Energy as Head of International Operations – July 19

Paranhpe, the former Wipro joint CEO, joined the fuel cell startup in May 2011 as Managing Director and was responsible for its expansion overseas, focusing mainly on India, China and Brazil. He reported directly to Bloom Energy’s CEO and co-founder, K R Sridhar.

Paranhpe told the Times of India that his agreed time period with Bloom Energy was over and that he is taking some time off.

Water Cleaning Startup Hires Power Vet, July 17

Pasteurization Technology Group, a company focused on disinfecting commercial wastewater, hired Mark Hughes as director of power generation. Hughes has spent over 30 years in the field, including the last 15 at Solar Turbines Inc., where he worked on both engineering and marketing. Pasteurization Technology Group raised $5 million in series-A financing in March to expand its industrial sales operation.

New Marketing Director for Silicon Valley Bank, July 10

Silicon Valley Bank, a leader in financing not only cleantech companies but also premium wine companies, hired Michelle Draper to lead its marketing efforts. Draper is moving from Charles Schwab, were she worked for almost 20 years.

GAO: Lots of Green Training, Few Green Jobs, June

The U.S. Labor Department spent $501 million on job training programs to prepare people for work in environmental fields, but so far only 55 percent of all participants have managed to find jobs, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. The effort, which was part of the larger Recovery Act stimulus package, faced challenges because in its rush to distribute grant money quickly, the Labor Department failed to define what actually constitutes a “green job,” and because there were simply too few green jobs available in the weak economy, the report found.

New from DARPA: Cleantech Venture Capitalists, June 27

The government agency that gave us synthetic blood, cyborg robot insects and a flying submarine is now churning out something a little more prosaic: venture capitalists. Doug Kirkpatrick, who spent eight years as a chief scientist with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has created InnerProduct Partners, a venture firm focused on capital light energy investments. He’s reportedly recruited a number of former colleagues including Pete Haaland, formerly a project manager DARPA project manager who moved on to the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

New Energy Focus for Executive Training Group, June 27 

What was once the Cleantech Fellows Institute is now the Energy Fellows Institute. The group, which trains experienced technology company executives and entrepreneurs to work in the alternative energy industry, is narrowing its efforts away from the broader cleantech field to concentrate specifically on clean energy, according to a statement by executive director Steven Berens.

Canucks Hire Blackberry CEO to Lead Tech Effort, June 25

Jim Balsillie, formerly the co-CEO of Blackberry, accepted a five-year appointment to lead Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a government agency that helps cleantech companies run by Canucks who otherwise would be tapping maple trees riding horses across the frozen tundra (we jest!). The agency has $325 million to spend over the next eight years.

With $245 Million in Hand, Lux Hires New CFO, June 25

Lux Capital hired Kathy Eliadis to be its new chief financial officer. The venture firm closed on its third fund in February, raising $245 million for cleantech investments. Eliadis moved from BlueRUn Ventures, where she was also CFO.

Lux made another key hire in May, bringing on board Bilal Zuberi to their Palo Alto office to focus on investment in the life sciences after years as a principal at General Catalyst in Boston.

Smart Grid Leader Will Help Call Shots in New York, June 19

It sounds like the very definition of obscure, but actually the New York State Public Service Commission wields tremendous power nationally by regulating gas and electric utilities in New York. This may explain the exuberance on the part of some environmental writers over Governor Andrew Cumo’s decision to appoint Audrey Zibelman, founder and former CEO of smart grid company Viridity Energy, to the commission’s five-member board.


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