Subscribe to RSS - SolarCity

SolarCity

Vivint Solar sues COO who jumped ship for competitor

 - 
Monday, December 30, 2013

I wrote back in November about how Brendon Merkley, the COO of Vivint Solar, had left to work for SolarCity, Vivint Solar’s larger competitor.

Now, Vivint Solar—an affiliate of home automation/home security provider Vivint—is suing Merkley for breach of contract.

In the lawsuit, filed Dec. 4 in U.S. District Court in Utah, Vivint Solar said it is bringing the case to prevent Merkley “from violating his contractual non-competition, non-disclosure, and customer/vendor non-solicitation covenants by going to work for Solar City.” Vivint also wants to stop him from disclosing trade secrets and soliciting Vivint Solar’s employees to go and work for SolarCity, the lawsuit says.

Vivint Solar is seeking to have the court restrain Merkley from working for Solar City for the time period his non-competition covenants apply. Vivint Solar also is asking for damages.

However, in another twist, Merkley and Solar City, which is based in in San Mateo, Calif., are suing Vivint Solar in California state court, saying non-competition covenants Merkley signed with Vivint Solar are unenforceable under California law, according to Vivint Solar’s lawsuit.

Vivint Solar, based in Provo, Utah, was established in 2011 and quickly has become the nation’s second-largest provider of residential solar systems, employing the successfull door-knocking sales techniques of Vivint. However, Solar City, founded in 2006, is the largest home solar provider.

Merkley was one of the original executives of Vivint Solar and a board member, so had an in-depth knowledge of the company, according to the lawsuit. He was “the face and voice of Vivint Solar” with the public and at community events and industry functions, before starting his new job at Solar City on Dec. 1, the lawsuit says.

Merkley tried to recruit a Vivint Solar VP to join him at SolarCity before he left Vivint Solar, but the VP refused, the lawsuit says.

Merkley was not the first Vivint Solar executive to bail for SolarCity. Former Vivint Solar CEO Tanguy Serra also joined SolarCity last spring.

Another shake-up at the top for Vivint Solar?

 - 
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

[UPDATE ON NOV. 14: I heard back late yesterday from SolarCity, which confirmed that Vivint Solar COO Brendon Merkley has joined SolarCity. Molly Canales, a communications associate with that company, told me in an email, "Brendon has accepted an offer to join SolarCity and we’re excited to welcome him aboard." So my report below is no longer speculative.]

Vivint Solar has been making headlines of late regarding the rapid success of the 2-year-old business and the new round of financing it just secured. Now here’s more about the company: The COO of Vivint Solar—a division of home automation/home security provider Vivint—has reportedly jumped ship for SolarCity, Vivint Solar’s larger competitor.

If true, COO Brendon Merkley is following in the footsteps of former Vivint Solar CEO Tanguy Serra, who bailed for SolarCity last spring.

Last month, Vivint Solar announced it had secured $540 million in new financing. And this month, the success of Vivint Solar—based in Provo, Utah—was the topic of Reuters feature story titled, “Knock! Knock! Solar company wins converts going door to door.” The story says that Vivint has quickly captured a 9 percent share of the residential solar installation market in the United States.

Interestingly, the Nov. 8 also extensively quotes COO Merkley on some of the secrets of Vivint Solar’s success. Vivint Solar also announced in June that Merkley had been elected as the executive committee’s state policy committee chair for the Solar Energy Industry Association.

But Reuters reports that SolarCity remains the market leader, with a 26 percent share.

And yesterday, Greentech Media reported that Merkley had defected to SolarCity.

I have reached out to Vivint Solar and SolarCity but Greentech Media says in its Nov. 12 report that it has already done that. “Vivint has confirmed that Merkley has left the firm. SolarCity has confirmed that Merkley is joining the firm,” the site reported.

Greg Butterfield this fall took over Serra’s old job as CEO of Vivint Solar. Who will replace Merkley? Stay posted!

Competitor reportedly scores CEO from Vivint Solar

 - 
04/24/2013

PROVO, Utah—Former Vivint Solar CEO Tanguy Serra has left the company and been hired by SolarCity, a solar energy company based in San Mateo, Calif., according to an article today from pandodaily.com, which notes that Serra’s LinkedIn profile “appears to confirm the move