Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Tech/Manufacturing/Business: "J.B. Straubel talks Tesla, Redwood Materials and keeping a startup mentality at any scale"

And un-manufacturing in the case of Redwood's battery recycling super-mega-giga-plant:

Battery Recycler Redwood Materials Will Have 5 Million Square Feet Under Roof At Its Nevada Campus

That's 115 acres (46.5 hectares) under roof. 

As we noted in a 2021 Redwood Materials post, "Watch Out Umicore: Ford partners with battery recycling and materials startup Redwood Materials":

Straubel was more than just Chief Technical Officer at Tesla. He was part of the company's founding team and more than anyone got the batteries and gigafactory into mass production. 

Which may explain the Go Big or Go Home approach to industrial facilities. 

From TechCrunch, September 20:

J.B. Straubel has worn many hats in his career: co-founder of Tesla, Tesla Board Member, and more recently, founder and CEO of battery materials and recycling startup Redwood Materials.

But in his heart, he’s a engineer, he said during a fireside interview at TechCrunch Disrupt.

“I think of myself first and foremost as an engineer. That’s actually what I love doing the most, and I feel like all these other activities are derived out of that. I don’t usually go seeking an entrepreneurial challenge or even sometimes seeking a company.”

But of course, Straubel has helped build some of the most technically challenging, industry-leading companies in the world: Tesla, which he co-founded and led as chief technical officer, and Redwood Materials, which he started in 2017. Tesla, of course, has become the world’s leading electric vehicle brand. Redwood’s mission is slightly different: to recycle up somewhere between 300-500 gigawatt hours (GWh) of batteries every year.

The challenge is enormous and extraordinarily capital intensive. Indeed, Redwood has raised over $2 billion, including a Series D round of over $1 billion that closed late last month, bringing its post-money valuation to north of $5 billion. In addition, the company has swelled to a workforce of 700-800 people. It’s a level of funding that few startups have ever reached – but even still, Redwood is still a startup, Straubel said....