Interesting that SLC took a hedged approach to their own business by having complementary but diversified branches of the business. SLC sounds like it’s done a terrific job of using science to maximize utilization and output of the agricultural land in Brazil, which certainly has significant international implications as populations continue to grow and certain areas struggle with food supply and diversity. As Alberto mentions above, I’m also interested in learning more about how soil quality is maintained over time; do you think that competitors will be able to replicate their land value arbitrage via similar soil remediation techniques, or will the upfront capex investment deter them?
Really enjoyed this post. I had no idea about the Cradle to Cradle certification for some of Sunpower’s panels – would be interesting to know how much of a premium those go for relative to their standard panel, and the typical consumer. It’s great to learn about the creative approaches they’ve taken on the technology and business partnership fronts, particularly given some of the uncertainty ahead for their solar industry, and I hope to see Sunpower weather that storm.
On the discussion regarding YieldCos above, I’d be curious about your thoughts on recent performance and long-term sustainability of this financing vehicle. Given the need to keep “feeding the YieldCo beast” and now that capital is no longer quite as cheap, I’d be concerned that the shift in expectation might actually be a disadvantage to Sunpower, similar to the issues that have cropped up at SunEdison.
Really interesting post. I’d never heard of this platform, though perhaps for good reason. While it certainly sounds like they failed to execute on the operational side, I’m not sure I understand the current problem they’re trying to solve — as you say, a failure to deliver value and then capture it. With banks actively working to improve their mobile systems to make transactions easier, the proliferation of Venmo, and free budgeting services like Mint that do let you see across accounts, it seems like the fundamental business strategy should be called into question. I’d be interested in knowing more about the demographics of the initial subscribers (e.g., millennials or others). This is an interesting juxtaposition to Monica’s profile on other recent fintech companies like Wealthfront or Betterment that take investment decision-making out of the hands of the consumer, and I wonder if the interest was driven by recent anti-traditional bank public sentiment.