Founded in 2006 by brothers Lyndon and Peter Rive, SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY.DL) is proving to be quite the disrupter in the field of energy delivery in the U.S. In fact, SolarCity is backed by none other than the "serial disrupter," Elon Musk, who owns 25% of the company and serves as chairman. Musk praises Rives' leadership of the company: "Thankfully [SolarCity] requires almost none of my effort, because those guys are just awesome in terms of their execution of SolarCity."
Okay, it is one thing for Musk -- who is the cousin of the Rive brothers -- to praise how the Rives are leading SolarCity. However, it appears that SolarCity's employees love both the culture and the leadership of the company as well. Just this month, in fact, SolarCity was named one of Glassdoor's "Top 20 Best Places to Work" as ranked by its employees. This ranking places SolarCity far ahead of SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) and First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) in the corporate culture department.
A culture employees love
Glassdoor, an online career community which aims to provide greater workplace transparency and authenticity, surveys verified company employees anonymously to rate both quantitative and qualitative aspects of a company. Each year, after receiving one year of employee surveys, Glassdoor reveals the "Employees' Choice Awards" -- the final list of companies rated highest by their respective employees based on the quantity, quality, and consistency of the employee reviews.
SolarCity presently has a rating of 3.9/5 on Glassdoor. As of December 11, SolarCity was ranked the 18th best place to work out of large companies with over 1,000 employees. SolarCity joins Twitter, Facebook, and Costco in the Employees' Choice Awards' Top 20 Best Places to Work in 2014.
One gets a basic idea of SolarCity's employee culture by reading a few of the employee reviews on Glassdoor. "The company does a good job of promoting from within, while at the same time bringing in outside talent when necessary," explains one employee in a November review.
Says another: "SolarCity is a fast paced and incredible company to work for."
And finally, one employee details that "SolarCity is a company who understands that they have to adapt, evolve and change to stay at the forefront of this industry."
You get the employees you deserve
Out of the reviews on Glassdoor, 90% of SolarCity's employees approve of CEO Lyndon Rive, who is just 35 years old. Part of what makes Rive a unique leader is his sincere passion for SolarCity's mission to provide clean energy for everyone, not just those with deep pockets. "What's important is the mission," says Rive. "If I wanted money, I would have cashed out a long time ago."
This is in contrast to SunPower's 3.1/5 rating on Glassdoor and 58% employee approval of CEO Tom Werner. First Solar comes in with a slightly higher company rating of 3.4/5 and 67% employee approval of CEO James Hughes. With 4,000 employees, SolarCity still has a smaller workforce than SunPower and First Solar, both of which have over 5,000 employees.
Most importantly, however, is that the Rive brothers are not the only ones passionate about SolarCity's cause. A telling employee review sums up SolarCity and the dedicated employees the company attracts:
"It feels great to sell something that is changing the world and helping families. It's even better to do it at a company that is looking at the long term... not just the here and now."
With SolarCity currently looking to fill over 400 jobs, a 10% increase from current employee levels, SolarCity is slated to welcome hundreds of new individuals to the company's innovative and passionate base of employee stakeholders. According to Glassdoor, SunPower is looking to fill 112 positions, while First Solar has no available openings.
Foolish bottom line
The Rive brothers are receiving praise from multi-billionaire technological genius Elon Musk and SolarCity's employees alike. Lyndon Rive was recently named one of 2013's most influential people by research firm SNL Energy. One needn't be a SolarCity cheerleader to see that this company's culture is clicking; the Rives are successfully rallying employees behind the common cause of making solar energy a realistic energy alternative for millions of Americans.
SolarCity is worth watching, even for those not invested in the company, because the business is not only beginning to transform energy delivery in the U.S., it is helping raise the bar for corporate culture.