Layoffs at Nanosolar

Nanosolar, the solar manufacturer located in South San Jose’s Edenvale clean-technology zone, had layoffs on Friday.

An anonymous caller to the San Jose Mercury News said Monday that Nanosolar laid off 75 percent of its workforce Friday. I have not been able to confirm that figure, and don’t know how many full-time employees Nanosolar had on the payroll. But it seems clear from the company’s statement that the reduction-in-force was significant.

“Nanosolar did experience a workforce reduction last week,” wrote Susan Lehman, a public relations person who works with the company, in an email Monday. “At this time, the company is in a quiet period and will not be issuing any formal statements. Once we have more information to share, we will provide additional details.”

You have to wonder if the company is in a quiet period because they are about to be sold at a fire sale price.

Nanosolar is one of several solar start-ups using CIGS — copper indium gallium selenide — instead of silicon for its solar cells and panels.

It makes its solar cells in San Jose and assembles them into panels at its factory in Luckenwalde, Germany. It has raised at least $450 million from investors, including Benchmark Capital and Mohr Davidow Ventures. The company has struggled for years with a widely held perception in Silicon Valley that it makes lofty promises and can’t deliver.

In January 2012, Nanosolar named  Eugenia Corrales, a veteran of Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, chief executive. Corrales joined Nanosolar in 2010 as executive vice president of engineering and operations and has spent most of her career turning prototypes into real products. I interviewed her in March of that year. The company’s current CEO is Karl Steigele.

If you worked at Nanosolar, or were an early investor, I’d love to hear from you; I’m at



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