The company is proposing to raise up to $201.25 million from the IPO but has yet to disclose the number of shares or their prices for the offering. Based in San Mateo, south of San Francisco, SolarCity wants to be listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol “SCTY.”
The pending IPO has been highly anticipated because so few cleantech companies have successfully pulled off a public debut, particularly in the solar business. The rise and fall of Solyndra included a drama of filing and then with drawing an IPO plan in June 2010. More recently, BrightSource Energy, which develops solar power plants that use mirrors and sun’s heat, shelved its IPO ambition in April this year. Brightsource reportedly wasn’t able to drum up a strong investor interest in its shares. But the company’s CEO, John Woolard, said BrightSource did receive “significant interest from potential investors,” but it didn’t really need to raise money through an IPO then and the public market was too volatile anyway.
SolarCity, founded in 2006, the company started as an installer of solar panels on the roofs of homes and businesses. It was one of the early crops of solar installers who used financing options, such as leases and power purchase agreements, to attract customers. With leases or power purchase agreements, home or business owners don’t pay the expensive upfront cost of buying and installing solar panels. Instead, an investor provides funds for Solar City to install the equipment and charge for electricity use, and part of the monthly payment from the home or business owners then goes back to the investor. SolarCity has raised hundreds of millions of funds from banks such as U.S. Bancorp and from corporate investors such as Google.
The company recorded $59.55 million in revenue and $73.71 million in net losses in 2011, compared with $32.43 million in revenue and $47.07 million in net losses in 2010. For the first six months of this year, the company posted $71.42 million in revenue and $48.91 million in net losses.
The company raised an $81 million equity round earlier this year, and at the time company spokesman Jonathan Bass said SolarCity had gotten just over $200 million in venture capital overall. The company’s investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, DBL Investors, and Generation Investment Management. Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk also is an investor and is SolarCity’s board chairman. If SolarCity goes public, this will be the second large IPO for Musk’s investments, following Tesla.