I will never get tired of saying this, no matter how many times it happens or how frequently: Elon Musk has done it again, or at least backed the right horse. At a time when the solar industry is contracting due to a glut of supply, a company called SolarCity - of which Elon Musk is Chairman - has just had a rousingly successful IPO with the stock jumping nearly 50% on its first day of trading. And the stock price is reasonably justified: SolarCity - unlike many of the firms in the industry that have been run into a ditch due to low panel prices from China - focuses on financing and installation of solar panels rather than manufacturing, so its bottom line actually benefits from the current situation.
Any way you look at it, it's good news for the solar industry, good news for high tech, good news for Elon Musk, and good news for his other ventures - Tesla Motors and SpaceX - since he can use the profits he gains from this IPO for whichever among them he sees fit, in case anything goes wrong in either. Now, naturally stock prices are always somewhat inflated from a one-to-one correspondence to actual value - that's just the nature of the beast when speculation is involved - but this company appears to be very healthy, and headed toward even better territory due to its business model. [Additional note: Apparently Musk didn't sell any stock, but rather bought some, so the exact significance for his finances remains to be seen. Hmm. :|]
The services SolarCity provides cannot be outsourced, so there is zero problem with China or any other foreign competitor - only relatively local business can finance and install solar panels - and they have a long head start and accumulated expertise that gives them a huge advantage over whatever domestic competition might exist (which I haven't heard much about yet). Disclaimer: I do not own stock in SolarCity, or in anything for that matter, and I am not employed by any such company or related industry, so I have no possible financial incentive to bullshit about this company or the solar industry in general. I am, however, a giant geek prone to overenthusiasm on the topic of solar energy, so feel free to take whatever I say with a grain of salt.
I have blogged in the past about solar energy and my ideas for what it portends for the future of humanity:
I've also blogged about Elon Musk, and what he portends for the future of humanity:
So far, my opinions seem to have been vindicated. But let's all knock on wood that they will continue to be. Personally, if even if 1% of the billionaires of the world were like Elon Musk, plutocracy might not be that bad. Unfortunately, it's pretty much just him - no one else even comes close.
3:23 AM PT: I hadn't read enough of the press around the IPO: Apparently SolarCity had to lower its desired offering prior to the stock launch because of lack of interest - they had wanted about $15 per share, but ended up at about $11 per share after the mentioned price increase on the first day from an original offering that was somewhat lower. Still, successfully managing an IPO is damn good compared to the rest of the industry's performance lately.