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ZOLA Electric Appoints Former Google CIO to its Board

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ZOLA Electric, the firm delivering Energy Access to emerging markets, has appointed former Google Chief Information Officer Ben Fried as a Senior Advisor and member of its Board of Directors.

Ben was Chief Information Officer at Google from 2008 to 2022, where he led a team of thousands of engineers, created a new vision for IT and used Google’s product engineering disciplines to build breakthrough solutions to Enterprise problems.  From 2014-2022, Ben was also Google’s New York site lead, the company’s largest site outside the Bay Area, which grew from 5,000 to 14,000 under Ben’s leadership.

According to Bill Lenihan, CEO of ZOLA Electric: “We are thrilled to have Ben join ZOLA’s Board of Directors. Ben’s technological achievements are significant – from overseeing the creation and launch of Google Meet, to deploying one of the first and largest zero-trust network architectures, BeyondCorp. His exceptional skills and experience in bringing enterprise technology solutions to market, digital transformation, and building and leading highly innovative technology organizations will be hugely valuable to ZOLA and for our mission.”

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Founded in 2011, ZOLA Electric’s mission is to improve Energy Access and Energy Equality for the 3.0 billion people worldwide who lack access to affordable, reliable energy. ZOLA’s world-first energy technology platform is adaptable, modular, market-leading, and purpose-built to meet the unique energy needs of emerging markets.

Today, Zola operates in over ten countries, in four continents – powering and impacting over 2.0 million customers via the deployment of over 385,000 energy solutions.  The firm recently announced its entry into Haiti, in partnership with renewable energy pioneer Haiti Green Solutions to address the Energy Crisis effecting millions across the country. It also launched a first-of-its-kind distributed mini-grid in Rwanda.

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In September 2021, Zola raised $90 million in fresh funding to expand its distributed renewable energy services and enter new markets.

“ZOLA aims to fill the ‘white space’ in the Energy Access industry landscape, by the development of our world-first Enterprise energy technology platform – which is purpose-built to bring reliable, affordable and clean power to 3 billion people and hundreds of millions of schools, clinics, farms and business that lack it.  This is one of the world’s great problems, and we look forward to Ben joining the mission to solve it,” added Bill Lenihan.

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Previously, Ben spent 13 years at Morgan Stanley – the multinational financial services company – as a Managing Director, where he designed and built the firm’s e-commerce and intranet architecture and infrastructure.

Ben’s track record and proven leadership in strategy, technology and innovation will materially assist ZOLA in its rapid expansion, and complement ZOLA’s impact-driven mission – to develop enterprise technology solutions to deliver Energy Equality worldwide. Ben’s appointment will significantly strengthen ZOLA’s capacity to develop world-class distributed energy systems, offering a decarbonized, decentralized and digitized primary power solution to the global Energy Access problem.      

“I am delighted to be joining the Board of ZOLA Electric as one of the leading technology companies today in the Energy Access space. I am particularly impressed by the sophisticated architecture of ZOLA’s unique energy technology platform and the innovative technology solutions it is deploying to drive away Energy Inequality across the globe. I look forward to contributing to the continuation of ZOLA’s success, both as a company and of its mission to improve Energy Equality for millions worldwide.” said Ben Fried, Board member at ZOLA Electric.

Ben was recently appointed as a Venture Partner at Rally Ventures – which invests exclusively in early-stage business technology companies, focusing on entrepreneurs creating major new markets or bringing transformative approaches to existing ones. He is an editorial Board member for the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and Queue magazine; a member of the Board of Visitors at Columbia University Fu School of Engineering; and Co-chair of Columbia University President’s Council on Data & Society.

Ben’s appointment follows ZOLA’s recent announcement of its launch of the world’s first distributed mini-grid in Rwanda, in partnership with META (formerly Facebook), the Shell Foundation, USAID and Endev. The ground-breaking project deploys ZOLA INFINITY boxes to power over 1,000 homes and businesses in two villages in rural Gakagati via a decentralised, modular and scalable energy and storage system; a significant milestone for the company and further demonstration of ZOLA’s technological leadership in the Energy Access space.

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James Musoba
James Musoba
Studying Africa's startup and technology scene. I always look forward to discovering new exciting inventions and vibrant entrepreneurs.

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