SunPower Taps Amazon Veteran as CEO to Sell Solar to The Masses

Now that SunPower Corp. has spun off most of its manufacturing business, the solar company is bringing in a new CEO with a background matching its new focus: retail sales.

San Jose, California-based SunPower hired Peter Faricy, a veteran of Discovery Inc. and Inc., to replace Tom Werner, its CEO of 18 years. Faricy will take over April 19, according to a statement Thursday.

The leadership change comes as vertically integrated U.S. solar companies refocus on a few core business areas. SunPower, once concerned with making panels, is now concentrating on selling solar and storage to residential and commercial customers, as well as deploying energy-management software -- significant growth areas. Faricy most recently served as CEO of global direct-to-consumer at Discovery and spent 13 years at Amazon, including as vice president leading the Amazon Marketplace.

“Originally, technology is what won the day,” said Jeff Osborne, an analyst at Cowen & Co., in an interview Thursday. “Now, you’ve seen a clear decoupling of the roles within the industry.”

Shares of SunPower rose as much as 4.7%.

Werner, 61, will continue as SunPower’s chairman for about six months and then the board plans to merge the positions of chairman and CEO. With a background in technology, Werner is part of solar’s old guard -- and one of its longstanding champions in Washington and beyond.

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:

“Werner’s decision to retire reflects the completion of his strategic vision to move toward higher-growth residential and commercial energy, and away from manufacturing. Faricy’s media background and experience in direct-to-consumer sales should suit the needs of the company’s push into energy services, and may further aid mass-market solar and battery-storage adoption.”
-- James Evans, BI renewable energy analyst

Click here to read the research.

Last year, about 143,000 megawatts of solar was installed globally, according to BloombergNEF. That compares with under 500 megawatts in 2003, Werner’s first year at SunPower.

SunPower went public in 2005 before agreeing to sell a controlling stake in 2011 to the French energy giant Total SA. The company was the second-biggest U.S. panel producer until it spun off that unit in August, and was widely known for having some of the most efficient photovoltaic products in the industry.

“Eighteen years is an eternity by solar industry standards,” said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James. “There aren’t many solar companies with 18 years of history.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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