I’ve heard this from a source and with the documents for an initialpublic offering filed, I don’t expect Solyndra to confirm it, but itgives an insight into why the company seems to have moved ahead of someof the other start-ups in cadmium indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solarcells.
CEO Chris Gronet gets a live video feed of the machinery on thefactory floor. When and if production slows down, he knows quickly. Heeven gets the feed at home. That sort of urgent paranoia lay at the heart of semiconductors andsolar panel manufacturing. The multimillion dollar factories thesecompanies must build can only become effectively profitable if utilizedin a highly efficient manner. Intel became Intel through the "copyexactly" methodologies pioneered in part by former CEO Craig Barrett.The factories were literally identical: one of the few ways to tell ifyou are in Arizona versus Israel is the inordinate number of peoplenamed Gadi. Execs at rival AMD sometimes joked that they used a "copysomewhat exactly" methodology.
Gronet, no coincidence, spent over a decade at Applied Materials, anequipment maker with its own exacting standards, before coming toSolyndra.
Solyndra has its pluses and minuses. Eric Wesoff dug through the S-1 and unearthed interesting details on Solyndra’s costs per watt. The company also lost $232 millionin fiscal 2009. On the other hand, it has customers and reportsefficiencies in the 11 to 14 percent range, or higher than a lot of theother thin films out there. It’s going to continue to be one of the bigstories of 2010.