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Maxeon Solar Technologies Layoffs: 15% Staff Cuts at Solar Panel Maker

October 11, 2023 by Joe Panettieri

Maxeon Solar Technologies layoffs will impact roughly 15% of the solar company's global workforce, according to an SEC filing and a press release. Despite the targeted job cuts at Maxeon and some other sustainability-oriented companies, the overall green technology job market appears to remain strong.

Maxeon's products include global rooftop and solar power plants. The global renewable energy company, based in Singapore with offices in San Jose, California, has a network of more than 1,700 partners and distributors.

The overall solar market -- particularly in the United States -- has faced multiple headwinds in 2023. Among the challenges: California, the largest U.S. residential solar market, has suffered from a policy change that reduced financial incentives to rooftop solar owners, Reuters noted in April 2023. Fast forward to early October 2023, and solar stocks such as Sunrun and Sunnova slid to 52-week lows, SeekingAlpha reported.

Maxeon Solar Layoffs: Business Weakness Triggers Staff Cuts

Meanwhile, Maxeon blamed recent business weakness on a large U.S. distributed generation customer that breached payment obligations to the solar company. As a result, Maxeon's third-quarter adjusted EBTIDA is expected to be roughly $30 million lower than previously estimated, the SEC filing revealed.

Amid that backdrop, Maxeon halted shipments to the delinquent customer in late July 2023. The customer recently made several payments and is "close to becoming current," but Maxeon has not resumed shipments to the customer, the SEC filing said.

Bill Mulligan, CEO, Maxeon Solar Technologies
Bill Mulligan, CEO, Maxeon Solar Technologies

Still, it sounds like Maxeon's business challenges extend beyond the delinquent U.S. customer. In a statement, Maxeon CEO Bill Mulligan said: “As a result of rapidly changing market and industry conditions, we have acted decisively to streamline our operations, invest in new technology, and adjust our mix between the DG and utility-scale markets. We believe that Maxeon is well positioned to weather this market disruption and come out stronger on the other side."

Mulligan joined Maxeon from battery materials specialist Sila Nanotechnologies in January 2023. He previously held executive posts at SunPower and AstroPower (acquired by GE Energy in 2004).

Maxeon expects to complete most of the layoffs by the end of 2023. The company will provide further details during its third quarter 2023 earnings call, which is scheduled for November 15, 2023.

The Maxeon layoffs surface less than one month after the company acquired Solaria's sales channel assets. That deal should "meaningfully accelerate" the buyer's direct sales efforts, Maxeon CEO Bill Mulligan said in September 2023. Moreover, Maxeon gained "immediate access to a qualified source of tariff-free solar panels" that the company plans to market adjacent to the buyer's flagship IBC solar panels. The acquisition also involved certain patents.

Growing Green Job Market Faces Targeted Layoffs, Staff Cuts

Meanwhile, the overall sustainability job market remains strong -- as businesses seek employees to fill green IT, renewable energy, and energy transition jobs.

Indeed, demand for green jobs in the United States has grown roughly 50% since 2019, according to Lightcast. In response, Goodwill and Accenture launched a green jobs training initiative in October 2023. Also, the White House in September 2023 unveiled the American Climate Corps., a new "workforce training and service initiative."

Still, the rising tide involving green jobs will not lift all boats. Sustainability-oriented companies announcing staff cuts in 2023 so far have included:

  • September 2023: Morningstar Sustainalytics layoffs impacted roughly 10% to 12% of employees at the ESG (environmental, social, governance) data, research and ratings firm.
  • September 2023: ChargePoint layoffs hit 10% of its staff and reorganized operations amid weaker-than-expected quarterly revenue guidance from the electric vehicle (EV) charging station network company.

What's next? We'll tune into the Maxeon earnings call on November 15, 2023, for clues.

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