10 Things You Didn’t Know about Proterra CEO Ryan Popple

Ryan Popple is the CEO of Proterra. Based on the name, it should come as no surprise to learn that Proterra provides something eco-friendly to interested individuals. To be exact, Popple’s corporation specializes in the production of zero-emission buses. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Ryan Popple:

1. College of William and Mary

For his education, Popple went to the College of William and Mary, which is the second oldest college that can be found in the United States. In fact, the school is named for William III and Mary II of England, a married couple who served as co-rulers. Said arrangement was very unusual in English history because the standard setup was a ruler plus their consort. However, Mary was the one with the claim to the English throne. Furthermore, she was willing to back her husband’s insistence that he be named her co-ruler in spite of considerable opposition in Parliament.

2. Studied At Harvard University

Later, Popple went to Harvard University, which is another school that can claim a great age by U.S. standards. It is interesting to note that said school is named for an English minister named John Harvard who donated a sum of money plus his books, which earned him an enormous amount of gratitude from an institution that was still very new at the time. As such, the man is considered to be the most honored of the founders of Harvard University.

3. Studied Business Administration

In both cases, Popple studied business administration. Said subject is exactly what it sounds like, which is to say, the subject that is concerned with the management of businesses as well as other organizations. Due to this, it encompasses a very wide range of topics. For example, accounting is covered because while managers don’t need to be capable of doing accounting, they do need to be capable of comprehending accounting statements at the very least. Likewise, human interaction skills play a very important role for the simple reason that the very role of a manager involving managing other people.

4. Used to Be in the Cavalry

Before his business career, Popple was a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army. Said position might sound rather strange to some people. After all, there are still some ceremonial units out there, but horses have next-to-no role in modern militaries for obvious reasons. However, the term still sees use for mechanized units, with an excellent example being Popple who was a tanker.

5. Spent a Lot of Time Serving As a Military Escort

As a tanker, Popple spent a lot of time serving as an escort for fuel convoys. Said task might not sound particularly exciting, but it was a dangerous role, as shown by how he has claimed that one in eight of the U.S. casualties suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan were connected to fuel convoy work in some way. This makes sense because fuel convoys were popular targets for the United States’s enemies in those countries. After all, fuel convoys are much less well-protected than fixed targets. Moreover, the loss of fuel convoys is painful because modern militaries can’t operate without having the right amounts of fuel in the right places.

6. Learned His Values Regarding Leadership in the U.S. Army

Popple has stated that he learned his values regarding leadership while he was in the U.S. Army. One example would be that leadership is a huge privilege on top of being a huge responsibility, while another example would be that it isn’t something that people are supposed to pursue because it is a path to personal benefit. Besides this, Popple has an interesting story about his unit having a rule that leaders shouldn’t eat before enlisted soldiers, which reveals much about its organizational culture.

7. Used to Be a Partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

There was a time when Popple was a partner with the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. There, he was a member of the team that handled green technologies. In particular, Popple was responsible for sustainable transportation, which made sense because he had existing expertise and experience thanks to his time with Tesla Motors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Popple’s time as a partner with the venture capital firm was how he winded up with Proterra.

8. Used to Be in Finance At Tesla Motors

At Tesla Motors, Popple was the senior director of finance at a very early point, meaning that he had a fair amount of influence over how the company has turned out. In particular, he played a critical role in helping Tesla Motors make the transition from being a private company that was still in a pre-revenue stage into a public company with $100 million in commercial contracts.

9. Concerned By How Climate Change Will Impact His Children

Popple has expressed concern about how climate change will impact his children. Basically, there is still much that remains unknown about the exact impact that climate change will have on the entire world. However, there can be no doubt about the fact that the time in which to do something about it is running out. In Popple’s opinion, even if his children’s generation wants to do something about climate change, they will be too late. As a result, it is up to Popple’s generation to get started on the problem before it causes irreparable damage that will have very negative consequences for the generations to come.

10. Sees the Need to Transition Off of Fossil Fuels

Naturally, Popple believes in a need to transition off of fossil fuels. After all, fossil fuels play a huge role in the greenhouse emissions that are causing the planet’s temperatures to rise on average. Proterra’s products are helpful in this regard for a couple of reasons. One, the widespread use of electric vehicles is a necessary step if modern societies want to wane themselves off of fossile fuels. Two, buses are much more efficient than individuals driving about in individual vehicles, meaning that better buses will have an important role in the reduction of the environmental impact of transportation.


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