In memoriam: Ryan Popple, 1977 – 2021

Dec. 16, 2021
Proterra says its former CEO’s legacy lives “with the communities around the world who can breathe easier and imagine a brighter future thanks to Ryan’s inspiring and transformational vision.”

Ryan Popple, current director and former CEO of Proterra, died Dec. 15, 2021, according to a statement on the company’s website.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague and dear friend, Ryan Popple. Ryan embodied entrepreneurial spirit and devoted his life to creating a better future. His leadership at Proterra was first and foremost about increasing access to affordable, sustainable solutions and shaping a zero-emission transportation future for the health of our planet and communities,” Proterra’s statement read.

Popple was an alumnus of the College of William & Mary and Harvard University, as well as an officer in the U.S. Army. He joined Tesla Motors’ finance department in 2007 and worked his way up to senior director of finance. During his time at Tesla, the company scaled from pre-revenues to more than $100 million. Popple worked with engineering teams to increase the company’s Roadster’s performance and developed Tesla’s consumer financing and leasing programs.

He was named a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2010, a firm focused on cleantech investments in mobility and transportation. Popple was named CEO of Proterra in 2014 and in the first year of his tenure, the company doubled manufacturing capacity.

Proterra marked several milestone’s under Popple’s leadership including the introduction of the Catalyst E2, the launch of company’s connected vehicle intelligence system and Proterra Energy fleet solutions and the scaling of the company’s battery leasing program, among other accomplishments.

Popple transitioned from the role of CEO in 2020 and was named co-founder and executive director. Proterra recently announced he would be stepping down from the board and Popple noted in the announcement his confidence the company was in good hands.

For all of Popple’s success working on the development and adoption of electric vehicles, a role he valued above all was that of husband, father and friend.

Popple is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and their three children.

In his profile as a 2015 honoree of Mass Transit’s 40 Under 40, Popple said he loved strategy video games, but it was a hobby where he was regularly bested at by his son.

Additional information regarding memorials will be added if and when they are made public.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.