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Should a fast-growing, employee-owned solar electric company accept a buyout offer from a private equity investor? Could it do so without sacrificing its distinctive, high-involvement culture? Namasté Solar, a 55-person firm based in Boulder, Colorado, designed and installed solar electric systems for residential, commercial, non-profit and government customers. In 2008, the company had been growing at breakneck speed for the past four years, since government incentives for the purchase of renewable energy had created a market for solar electric systems in Colorado. Now, two investors had approached the firm with serious buyout offers. A buyout would bring a new infusion of capital to the firm, enabling it to expand more quickly and install more solar systems, and employees with vested shares would benefit from an attractive sales price. However, Namasté, from the outset, had been committed to building a democratic, high-involvement culture. Ownership was widely shared, and all employees, whether or not they held equity, were encouraged to participate in strategic decisions facing the firm. Many were concerned that selling the company would mean sacrificing the firm's carefully crafted culture. What was the best way forward for Blake Jones and the green energy company that he and two partners had founded?
United States, Small, 2008
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