VCJ Video: SolarCity CEO Chats About VCs, Elon Musk Following IPO

While the general VC-backed IPO market has had its ups and downs, solar companies have generally seen more down times in 2012 than good.

Enphase Energy went public in the spring and has since seen its share price split in half. BrightSource Energy canceled its planned IPO earlier this. And the Solyndra failure continues to haunt the cleantech industry.

Yet at a time when many solar companies are unable to achieve desired valuations, clean energy provider SolarCity braved the public markets, listing on the Nasdaq (SCTY) last week. But the IPO didn’t happen without a hitch. Expecting to price 11.5 million shares at $13 to $15 a share, the eventual $8 debut price on Dec. 13 seemed like a low blow. At least for a few hours. By the time the day was over, SolarCity was trading at $11.79, not far beneath what the company originally had hoped.

The stock closed above $12 a share on Monday.

The Elon Musk-backed company was fortunate to get a first day pop, but CEO Lyndon Rive is focused on the long-term. Rive sat down with VCJ contributor Katie Roof on the day of the offering last week and explained that the company priced lower “in order to build confidence with investors.”

SolarCity Venture backers include Draper Fisher Jurveston, DBL Investors and Mayfield Fund. Another notable investor is co-founder Musk, founder of SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla Motors and PayPal.

Going into the SolarCity offering, Musk held a 31% stake. As it turns out, SolarCity is a family business of sorts. Chairman Musk and CEO Rive are cousins. Lyndon’s brother Peter Rive is also a co-founder. Emphasizing their familial ties, Lyndon says of Elon, “our mothers are twins and our fathers are born on the same day.” But working together is no ordinary family get-together. Rive says “all we do is talk about work,” adding “he’s helped us with many of the engineering challenges that we faced.”

VCJ subscribers can read more and see the full video here. A clip of Rive’s interview with VCJ is below.