Peter Rive, the cofounder of SolarCity and cousin of Elon Musk, is leaving Tesla just under eight months after the automaker acquired the struggling solar company in a deal valued at $2.6 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
The news of his exit comes just two months after Lyndon Rive, Peter’s brother and SolarCity cofounder, announced his departure, a move that raised more questions around the already-controversial 2016 merger, which some critics saw as a bailout of SolarCity.
As detailed in our new cover story on Tesla’s solar ambitions, SolarCity, which Peter and Lyndon launched with a $10 million investment from Musk, had grown into a solar industry juggernaut before running into significant business challenges in recent years. Musk, who was SolarCity’s chairman and largest shareholder, proposed a merger last year, and the deal completed in November.
In an emailed statement, a Tesla spokesperson confirmed Peter’s departure, writing, “Pete Rive will be leaving the company to explore new opportunities. As cofounder and CTO of SolarCity, Pete has played an instrumental role in expanding access to solar to hundreds of thousands of people across the country, helping to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
The departure is significant because Peter, who served as VP of solar products at Tesla after the merger, has been a driving force behind a number of the company’s most important solar initiatives, including its solar Gigafactory, based in Buffalo, New York, as well as the company’s new Solar Roof product. In May, when Lyndon told me he was leaving the company, he made a point of indicating that Peter would remain at Tesla. “He’s the primary lead on Solar Roof and he’s focused on Solar Roof,” Lyndon told me. (Musk also told me around that time that “Pete is really working his ass off” to bring the Solar Roof product to market.)
The Tesla spokesperson now says that Pete’s responsibilities, “including work on Solar Roof, will be distributed among Tesla’s existing engineering teams.”