Solar Exec Shuffle: SunPower, National Semiconductor

While personnel changes and new hires are nothing new, this current news includes some heavy hitters. Could this be a sign of things to come, as solar and other green companies position themselves to succeed in a weakened economy?
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Written by Jennifer Kho

The greentech industry appears to be undergoing a round of corporate shuffle, according to several announcements about new executives in the last week.

In perhaps the most talked-about change,

Tesla Motors

last week switched out its chief executive, Ze'ev Drori, for the company chairman,

PayPal

a division of

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

founder and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

While personnel changes and new hires are nothing new, this current crop of announcements seems heavier than usual. Could the increase be a sign of things to come as companies position themselves to succeed in a weakened economy?

In another example, solar-panel manufacturer

SunPower Corp.

(SPWRA)

named Dennis V. Arriola as its chief financial officer and senior vice president.

Arriola -- who plans to work with the current chief financial officer, Manny Hernandez, until he retires in January -- previously held the same positions at

San Diego Gas & Electric

and

Southern California Gas Co.

Meanwhile, Aaron Thurlow, who was a regional sales manager for SunPower Corp., told

Greentech Media

on Thursday that he left the company to become the global sales channel manager for

National Semiconductor Corp.'s

(NSM)

renewable energy segment.

The large power-management semiconductor company in July announced it was bringing a new chip-based technology -- called SolarMagic -- to the market that could potentially increase the amount of electricity that solar panels can produce by up to 50 percent.

National Semi has made at least three new hires this month for SolarMagic, Thurlow said. John Giddings, author of

The Solar Evangelist

blog and the founder of Clean Tech Integration consulting, last week became the new business development manager for SolarMagic. And Sjuli Beekhuis, who was the director of business development for

Fat Spaniel Technologies

, also joined the team.

Beyond Solar

In more new additions,

Novomer

, a company developing technology to make plastics, polymers and chemicals from pollution, hired Jim Mahoney, formerly the CEO of

Surface Logix

, as its new chief executive. President Charles Hamilton, who will retain his title, previously headed the company.

Mahoney told

Xconomy

that Novomer decided to sign on a CEO to help it commercialize its technology and added it was planning to seek another round of funding. Novomer raised $6.6 million in November. The company launched its first produce in June.

Novomer also appointed Peter Shepard, the former CEO of

Nylon Corp.

of America, as its vice president of business development.

Finally, Martin Tobias, former CEO of troubled biodiesel company

Imperium Renewables

, has become the head of a startup called

Kashless.org

, which aims to connect people who want to reuse things, according to a blog post by Eric Engleman at the

Puget Sound Business Journal

.

In May, Tobias told

Earth2Tech

he was still considering his options.

Imperium earlier this month said it raised $18 million to pay off some of its debt and resume operations.

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