Lyndon Rive and his brother, Peter Rive, founded SolarCity with help from Musk in 2006, and ran the company independently until Tesla agreed to acquire it a year ago for $2.6 billion.
Musk served as SolarCity chairman before Tesla bought out SolarCity for $2.6 billion previous year.
The SolarCity and Tesla exec told Reuters in an interview Monday he would be leaving his post as head of sales and service at Tesla's energy arm. He had been in a sales and servicing executive role at Tesla since the takeover, with remaining SolarCity employees to take over his duties, Reuters said.
Speaking on his decision, Rive in a statement said that SolarCity is now healthier than ever and is growing stupendously. The sale came as investors anxious about the solar panel installer's debt-fueled growth. Billed by many on Wall St.as a financially inviable acquisition and "bailout" of a company bleeding cash to survive, Tesla began shifting SolarCity's business model nearly immediately following its acquisition - shifting previously focused efforts on door-to-door sales and long term leases to sales of products with the highest profit margin. Much, if not all, of its original business model - much like that of Tesla - was based on receiving taxpayer subsidies and grants.
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Musk said the two companies belonged together because they share a common vision - a world fueled by renewable energy - and leadership.
Rive's departure comes a week after Tesla announced it would begin taking orders for its solar roof tiles, a new technology that Musk believes will help make solar panels a thing of the past. Musk suggested to Rive during a trip to Burning Man that he start a solar company.
Rive started his first company at the age of 17, according to SolarCity's website. "I can hand off the baton to somebody else and give myself the opportunity to do something else that could also have another impact", Lyndon told Reuters.
As to whether Tesla's acquisition of SolarCity by Musk in the summer of 2016 was a bailout for both the solar panel installer and his cousin, we leave it up to readers to decide.