How does a fledgling solar-panel company with dim prospects for survival in the free market become profitable? Well, in the case of Solyndra, a good first step was to have the federal government put up a considerable investment — a $535 million loan guarantee. But as the company’s backers would soon discover, coming up with a viable step two is a little more complicated. In many cases, the only feasible way forward is to go to whatever lengths necessary to repeat step one.
Continued support from the federal government was always a fundamental aspect of Solyndra’s “business model.” On Dec. 18, 2009, three months after the Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee was formally awarded, Solyndra submitted a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission for a planned initial public offering of company stock. In that filing, the company said that it planned to become profitable in part by “strategically aligning our products with key government programs that provide financial incentives, export credit and project finance.” Having someone like billionaire Obama fundraiser George Kaiser as a primary investor certainly couldn’t have hurt, either.
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