Lyndon Rive, who led SolarCity as it developed plans to open a massive solar factory in South Buffalo, will leave the Tesla Inc. subsidiary next month.
Rive told Reuters on Monday he is leaving to pursue a new startup sometime next year. Rive co-founded SolarCity and served as its chief executive as it was bought out by Tesla Inc. last year.
A cousin of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Rive also told Reuters he wants to spend more time with his family and that his passion is "starting and running" companies. He did not elaborate on what kind of company he might start next.
In a statement, a Tesla spokeswoman credited Rive with building SolarCity into the country's top solar provider.
"Because of his leadership, and dedication to our mission, Lyndon has helped position Tesla for an amazing future," the spokesperson said in a written statement. "We know he's an entrepreneur at heart, and we wish him the very best on his next venture."
Rive's responsibilities will be divided among other leaders at Tesla, Reuters reported.
Tesla plans to begin making solar products later this year at the state-owned RiverBend factory in Buffalo, but has not given an exact timeline for manufacturing to begin. It has said it will begin producing its new solar roof tiles in June on a pilot basis at its plant in Fremont, Calif., before shifting production to Buffalo.
Rive, who co-founded the residential solar company with his brother, Peter, in 2006, has often served as the public face of SolarCity in Buffalo. He attended the ceremonial groundbreaking of the RiverBend project in South Buffalo in 2014 and traveled to Buffalo the following year for a news conference with U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer to talk about the effects of extending solar energy tax credits.
The SolarCity project is the centerpiece of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Buffalo Billion economic development program. Under the initiative, the state poured $750 million into construction and equipment for the company. SolarCity agreed to create 500 manufacturing jobs at the factory, along with nearly 1,000 other jobs in support, sales and administration in Buffalo.
Rive, a native of South Africa, founded SolarCity with financial backing from Musk. Peter Rive will stay with Tesla as vice president of solar products.
Musk served as SolarCity chairman before Tesla bought out SolarCity for $2.6 billion last year. Rive had served as head of sales and services in Tesla's energy division since last year.