Make us your home page
Instagram

As Solyndra faltered, top executives collected big bonuses

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Senior executives at Solyndra Inc. collected multiple bonuses, some as high as $60,000, as the solar panel manufacturer bled cash and careened toward bankruptcy over the summer.

Bankruptcy documents filed in Delaware this week reveal that more than a dozen senior executives at the defunct solar manufacturing company were awarded sizable quarterly bonuses on April 15 and again on July 8. Solyndra, based in Fremont, Calif., ceased operations in late August and filed for bankruptcy Sept. 6. About 1,100 employees were laid off without severance pay.

The bonuses, awarded to more than a dozen executives, came on top of what were already competitive salaries. Karen Alter, Solyndra's vice president of marketing, had an annual base salary of $275,000; she was awarded a $55,000 bonus in April and again in July. Ben Bierman, Solyndra's executive vice president of operations and engineering, had an annual base salary of $300,000; he was awarded $60,000 in April and again in July. Will Stover, the company's chief financial officer, was also awarded a $60,000 bonus in April and again in July.

Details of the bonuses come as Solyndra attempts to auction off the manufacturing equipment that remains in the idled Fremont factory.

Bruce Groshsgal, Solyndra's bankruptcy attorney, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The bonuses were put in place in an effort to retain talent at Solyndra, which suffered from enormously high turnover during its five years in operation, the San Jose Mercury News said it was told by a former Solyndra employee whom it did not identify.

The Mercury News said the former employee told it that the retention bonus was meant to keep people until July, since turnover was about 30 to 45 percent. The retention packages apparently began in late 2010 under Brian Harrison, who was named CEO in July 2010.

Chris Gronet, the company's founder and original CEO, had a base salary of $400,000. When he was replaced by Harrison, his severance package totaled $456,000. The bankruptcy documents show that Gronet never received the money.

Solyndra was awarded a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy in 2009, and the company's implosion has raised numerous questions about the company's financial health. The Department of Energy agreed to restructure Solyndra's debt in early 2011, and had observer status on Solyndra's board of directors.

As Solyndra faltered, top executives collected big bonuses 11/02/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 8:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, San Jose Mercury News.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  2. International array of artists chosen as finalists for pier project

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A diverse group of six artists will compete for a chance to install their work at the city's multimillion-dollar Pier District, expected to open in early 2019.

  3. Gourmet food fight between top chefs raises $200,000

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — The chefs came armed with their secret ingredients — pork rinds, truffle butter, pork bellies.

    (From left to right) Chefs Ryan Mitchell, Michael Buttacavoli, Ted Dorsey and Matthew Brennan compete during Tampa Bay Food Fight at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The event features chefs from the Tampa Bay area and benefitted Metropolitan Ministries. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  4. HSN star Joy Mangano promotes new book: Inventing Joy

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than 30 years, Joy Mangano knows a thing or two about promoting products. Now she's promoting herself.

    Inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano is releasing her first new book, Inventing Joy on Nov. 7. [TIERRA SMITH | Times]
  5. Moffitt CEO Alan List, new chair of Tampa Hillsborough EDC, outlines goals for 2018

    Economic Development

    Moffitt Cancer Center CEO Alan List was officially elected the 2018 chairman of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. at the EDC's annual meeting held Tuesday night at the Amalie Arena. He endorsed a stronger pursuit of life science business for the region and praised ongoing efforts to raise the national …

    Dr. Alan F. List, CEO of Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center, now wears an economic development hat as the 2018 chairman of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. [Special to the Times]