Sources tell GTM that Spruce has been trying to sell itself for the last three quarters. Rumors about the future of the company and its leadership are rife.
Spruce is the product of a merger between Clean Power Finance and Kilowatt Financial and provides financing for residential solar, water conservation and energy efficiency. The two merged companies have raised more than $2 billion. In early 2016, Spruce received $175 million from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation to finance residential solar.
Clean Power Finance's investors have included Edison International, Duke Energy, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Hennessey Capital, Claremont Creek Ventures and Sand Hill Angels. Kleiner was also an investor in Kilowatt Financial.
GTM confirmed that Spruce issued layoffs in February, although the numbers involved were small enough not to require WARN notices. Last week, Spruce told GTM that it has recently raised project and equity financing.
Chris Wirth, a spokesperson for Spruce, told GTM today: “As a finance company, we're always raising capital and have an active pipeline. We recently raised equity from existing investors and announced significant project financing raises earlier this year. We’re constantly exploring innovative financing structures to lower the cost of capital for residential solar and home efficiency financing.”
That's the official line. CEO Nat Kreamer was out of the country and not available for comment.
GTM sources have reported receiving resumes from laid-off and active Spruce employees, that CFO Darren Thompson is acting as company president, that solar installer partners are being paid late or not at all, and that there's too much debt for Spruce to service. Sources suggest another round of layoffs will be needed to trim back the business and avoid a fate similar to Sungevity.
Years of manic growth have enabled some solar industry players to cover up deficiencies in product, service or cost stack. This year's leaner market growth and slimmer margins are exposing the weaknesses of some of the solar industry's leading firms.