Three climatetech experts have joined Greentown's board. Photo via Greentown Labs

With dual locations in the Houston and Boston areas, Greentown Labs has added three new members of its board of directors.

The climatetech incubator has added the following individuals to its board:

All three of the new board members are based in the Boston area, joining 10 existing members, which includes Houstonians Barbara Burger, Dawn James, and Nisha Desai.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, we enthusiastically welcome Kevin, Elizabeth, and John to Greentown Labs’ Board,” James, who serves as the board chair, says in a news release. “They each bring impressive experience and deep expertise across the climate and energy transition ecosystem that will play an important role as we chart Greentown’s next chapter of impact.”

The nonprofit has seen some big changes this year, announcing that its CEO and President Kevin Knobloch will be stepping down at the end of July. Knobloch assumed his role last September, previously serving as chief of staff of the United States Department of Energy in President Barack Obama’s second term.

The news of Knobloch's departure came several weeks after the organization announced that it was eliminating 30 percent of its staff, which affected 12 roles in Boston and six in Houston.

Kevin Knobloch is stepping down as Greentown Labs CEO, effective on July 31. Photos courtesy

Greentown Labs to launch another executive search, CEO to step down after less than a year in the position

on the hunt

Greentown Labs, which is co-located in the Boston and Houston areas, has announced its current CEO is stepping down after less than a year in the position.

The nonprofit's CEO and President Kevin Knobloch announced that he will be stepping down at the end of July 2024. Knobloch assumed his role last September, previously serving as chief of staff of the United States Department of Energy in President Barack Obama’s second term.

“It has been an honor to lead this incredible team and organization, and a true privilege to get to know many of our brilliant startup founders," Knobloch says in the news release. “Greentown is a proven leader in supporting early-stage climatetech companies and I can’t wait to see all that it will accomplish in the coming years.”

The news of Knobloch's departure comes just over a month after the organization announced that it was eliminating 30 percent of its staff, which affected 12 roles in Boston and six in Houston.

According the Greentown, its board of directors is expected to launch a national search for its next CEO.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank Kevin for his efforts to strengthen the foundation of Greentown Labs and for charting the next chapter for the organization through a strategic refresh process,” says Dawn James, Greentown Labs Board Chair, in the release. “His thoughtful leadership will leave a lasting impact on the team and community for years to come.”

Knobloch reportedly shifted Greentown's sponsorship relationships with oil companies, sparking "friction within the organization," according to the Houston Chronicle, which also reported that Knobloch said he intends to return to his clean energy consulting firm.

The cuts to positions affects both Greentown Labs locations. Photo via Greentown

Greentown Labs reduces roles at Houston, Boston incubators

tough decisions

Greentown Labs has announced a reduction in its staff, which affects both of its locations.

In a letter addressed to the Greentown Labs community, the organization's CEO and President Kevin Knobloch reported that Greentown will be reducing its staff by 30 percent, eliminating 12 roles in Boston and six in Houston. Knobloch noted changes in leadership, growth of the team, and adjustments following the pandemic.

"Greentown Labs grew rapidly over the past four years in pursuit of advancing its mission to catalyze climate action through entrepreneurship, partnership, and collaboration," Knobloch writes in the letter. "This created a structural deficit where growth outpaced revenue."

The letter did not provide details of which positions were eliminated at either location.

With these resizing of the staff and reduced expenses, Knobloch writes that the organization is positioned well for its future.

"Despite this decision, I remain optimistic about the future for Greentown and the impact we will have on addressing the climate crisis," Knobloch tells the community. "Our mission is as urgent as ever and we remain committed to supporting all of you—our startups—by prioritizing core operations, member services, and strategic partner engagements."

Knobloch took the helm of Greentown last summer. He previously served as chief of staff of the United States Department of Energy in President Barack Obama’s second term.

Here's the latest global energy company to sign onto Greentown Labs. Photo via GreentownLabs.com

Greentown Labs names Colombia-owned energy co. as latest top-tier industry partner

looking south

Greentown Labs has named its latest partner, opening a door to Colombia and South America.

Ecopetrol has joined Greentown as its newest Terawatt Partner, the highest level partner for the incubator. The company, which the Colombian government holds a majority ownership stake in, has integrated business across the hydrocarbon value chain, as well as low emission solutions and energy transmission.

"Accelerating the energy transition and fostering climate action is only possible through innovation, entrepreneurship, and meaningful partnerships," Ecopetrol's Chief Innovation Officer Agostinho João Ramalho Almeida says in a news release. "At Grupo Ecopetrol, we believe in joint efforts, orchestration, and access to technology to push barriers and increase value for our business and sustainability agenda. Partnering with Greentown Labs and working alongside industry leaders is an amazing opportunity to tackle common goals and challenges."

The company has a presence in several other locales throughout South and North America, per the release.

With the new partnership, Ecopetrol will have access to the Greentown community and events. Laura Tobón Díaz, head of innovation ecosystems and strategic partnerships for Ecopetrol, will serve on Greentown's Industry Leadership Council.

"Greentown is excited to partner with Ecopetrol, an energy company taking meaningful action on climate in collaboration with the Colombian government," Greentown CEO and President Kevin Knobloch says in the release. "We look forward to seeing our startups' climate technologies advance Ecopetrol's decarbonization efforts, as well as Ecopetrol sharing its energy expertise, connections, and resources with our entrepreneurs."

Earlier this year, TotalEnergies joined the incubator at the Terawatt level, and before that, GE Vernova was the latest top-level partner, joining last fall.

Greentown Labs has a new Terawatt Partner. Photo courtesy of Greentown Labs

TotalEnergies signs on as top-level partner at climatetech incubator

onboarding

Greentown Labs, dual located in Houston and Somerville, Massachusetts, has named its latest top-level partner.

TotalEnergies has joined the incubator at the the highest level of partnership — the Terawatt level — Greentown Labs announced on January 23. Through the partnership, TotalEnergies will have access to Greentown's membership of clean energy startups and event programming.

Lotfi Hedhli, president at TotalEnergies Research & Technology U.S., will participate on Greentown’s Industry Leadership Council, providing strategic guidance to the incubator.

“We are excited to join Greentown Labs and its ecosystem to catalyze the development of potential decarbonization technologies through collaboration with promising startups,” Hedhli says in a news release. “This partnership with Greentown Labs will focus in particular on the deployment and use of renewables and low-carbon solutions, which are critical to our ambition to achieve carbon neutrality.”

TotalEnergies is among the world's largest utility-scale solar developers with activity in over 30 states in the country, including a Houston-area solar farm that went online in October. Additionally, TotalEnergies announced in November that it signed an agreement with TexGen to acquire $635 million three gas-fired power plants with a total capacity of 1.5 GW in Texas.

“At Greentown Labs, we continue to recognize and appreciate the role energy leaders play in the clean energy transition and we’re proud to have TotalEnergies join us as a Terawatt Partner,” Greentown Labs CEO and President Kevin Knobloch says in the news release. “We applaud the meaningful steps TotalEnergies is taking to expand its renewable energy portfolio and generation, and we’re eager to have their team of experts engaging directly with our climatetech entrepreneurs.”

Greentown last named a Terawatt Partner — GE Vernova — last fall.

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How Elon Musk's $44.9B Tesla pay package compares with the most generous plans for other U.S. CEOs

stacking up

Even though the median U.S. CEO pay package last year was nearly 200 times more than a worker in the middle of their company pay scales, Elon Musk's record-setting Tesla compensation dwarfs them by comparison.

Tesla shareholders on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of restoring Musk's 10-year pay plan, valued by the company in April at $44.9 billion. It was worth more early in the year, but Tesla's stock value has fallen about 25% since then.

The all-stock package, approved by the board and shareholders in 2018, rewards Musk for hitting milestones that include raising Tesla's market value, pretax income and revenue.

It had been tossed out by a Delaware judge in January who said the process for approving it was “deeply flawed.” The court ruled that Musk controlled the company's board, and shareholders weren't fully informed.

But the company said Musk deserves the pay because he turned Tesla into the top-selling electric vehicle maker in the world, increasing its market value by billions.

Even with the reapproval vote, Musk won't get access to the stock options just yet. Tesla is expected to ask the judge to revisit her decision in light of the vote, and if she doesn't, the company probably will appeal the ruling to Delaware's Supreme Court. The whole process could take months.

No matter the outcome, Musk's package — the largest award to a CEO of a U.S. public company — is far above what's been granted to other chief executives. Here's how the package compares:

WITH THE MEDIAN CEO PAY

The median pay package for an S&P 500 U.S. CEO last year was $16.3 million, according to data analyzed for The Associated Press by Equilar. If you multiply that by 10 to get $163 million for a decade of work, Musk's earnings still would be 275 times greater.

In her January ruling that struck down the package, Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick wrote that Musk's package, then worth about $56 billion, was 250 times larger than the median peer CEO's pay plan.

WITH INDIVIDUAL CEOS

The top earner in the AP's survey was Hock Tan, CEO of artificial intelligence company Broadcom Inc. His package, mostly consisting of stock awards, was valued at about $162 million, when given to Tan at the start of fiscal 2023. Thanks to a surging stock price, Broadcom in March valued Tan’s pay package, plus older options he hadn’t yet cashed in, at $767.7 million. That's an amount easily eclipsed by Musk’s potential haul of 304 million shares worth almost $45 billion.

Other CEOs at the top of AP's survey are William Lansing of Fair Isaac Corp, ($66.3 million); Tim Cook of Apple Inc. ($63.2 million); Hamid Moghadam of Prologis Inc. ($50.9 million); and Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix ($49.8 million).

Technically, Musk got no compensation last year because he didn't get any stock options. But he stands to get even richer if his pay package goes through.

WITH TESLA WORKERS

It's difficult to calculate what Musk's annual pay would have been last year. The company says he got nothing. But if his compensation package makes it through the courts, his pay will be in the billions. According to the company's proxy filing this year, the median annual pay of a non-CEO Tesla employee last year was $45,811.

Houston SaaS startup on a mission of decarbonizing public transportation secures SBIR grant

seeing green

A Houston company that's electrifying public transportation secured a SBIR Phase 1 award from the Department of Transportation.

ReVolt Battery Technology Corp., software-as-a-service company based out of the University of Houston Innovation Center, received the award. The company did not disclose the monetary value of the funding, but indicated that the grant will support ReVolt's "research on reducing auxiliary power consumption in battery electric buses," according to a statement from the company.

"ReVolt stands out as one of only 23 small businesses across the United States to be selected in this highly competitive process, which focuses on creating innovative infrastructure for safe and secure transportation," reads the statement.

The company's software technology platform consists of charging infrastructure, electric vehicle scheduling, fleet digital twin, and greenhouse gas reduction and estimation.

The company was founded in 2021 by Jan Naidu and, according to Crunchbase, has raised $200,000 in pre-seed funding.

Houston solar energy company names new C-level leadership

onboarding

Houston’s Sunnova Energy has named a new member to its C suite.

Eric Williams has been appointed executive vice president and CFO of Sunnova, an industry-leading adaptive energy services company. He brings 20 years of experience with 13 years in the energy industry to the company.

Williams replaces Robert Lane. Lane served as Sunnova's executive vice president and CFO from May 2019 to June 2024.

“I was drawn to Sunnova by its commitment to power energy independence and make clean energy more accessible, reliable, and affordable for homeowners and businesses,” Williams says in a news release. “Building on its unique accomplishments and strong history as an industry leader, I am confident in Sunnova’s ability to create value for all stakeholders and realize its vision for a clean energy future.

"I also count it a privilege to succeed Rob Lane, whose leadership and contributions have been invaluable," he continues. "I am grateful for his help ensuring a seamless and effective transition, and I am eager to begin working with his talented team.”

Prior to taking this position, Williams served as CEO and executive vice president of Diversified Energy Company where he helped establish the company’s asset backed securitization structure and led the issuance of approximately $2 billion in securitized debt.

"Eric’s extensive background in the energy sector and impressive track record in finance and accounting will be invaluable to Sunnova, and we are confident he will be a key driver in our growth and success going forward," William J. (John) Berger, CEO at Sunnova adds. "As a seasoned financial leader with deep experience in leveraging the capital markets, we believe Eric is uniquely positioned to continue building Sunnova’s strong financial framework and create more long-term value for our shareholders.”