Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO / Technoking since mid-2008 seems to have made a decision this year about who will eventually step into his enormous shoes. James Murdoch is a Tesla board director and son of media mogul, Rupert Murdoch. James Murdoch informed the Delaware Court of Chancery that Musk has actually chosen a successor as Tesla CEO. While being questioned in the current Tesla vs Tornetta lawsuit, Murdoch was asked about whether a potential candidate had been selected and he confirmed.
Murdoch took the witness stand as a co-defendant in the case of Richard J. Tornetta. He is suing Tesla on the grounds that the corporation got it wrong in rewarding Musk with his remuneration package in 2018, which shareholders had previously authorized.
It's unclear exactly how formalized the choice of a new Tesla CEO has become, as well as if the board has given its approval. What we do know is that anything can change at Tesla. So, who could the top contenders be for the Technoking throne?
Someone who was probably a top contender until three days ago, Afshar worked as a senior director at Tesla and oversaw the construction of Tesla’s Giga factory in Texas. However, he was moved to SpaceX this week following rumors he was using company funds for projects unrelated to Tesla.
Many devoted Tesla supporters would like to see JB, a crucial ally of Musk in the company's early years, make a comeback. After 15 years with the EV pioneer, Straubel, who had been there from the beginning of the company's formation, left in 2019 to head his own business, Redwood Materials, which recycles EV batteries. The two continue to have a cordial friendship based on respect for one another and he may well be considered a good selection by investors.
The company's highest senior engineer after Musk is the senior vice president for powertrain and energy engineering. He is the driving force behind the switch to a next-generation powertrain for cars that uses cutting-edge 4680 battery cells. Apart from Musk, Baglino is the only other engineer who regularly updates investors on significant developments during quarterly earnings calls. He is a logical candidate due to his expertise spanning Tesla's vehicle and energy storage divisions.
Elon and Drew at Tesla's Battery Day, 2020 (Image source: Flickr.com)
Since taking over for Depak Ahuja in 2019 as finance director, Zach has consistently produced great figures and the secret is his strict cost management. Because operational expenses are still incredibly low, earnings growth is outpacing increase in vehicle sales. Although Musk is known to strongly favor engineers over bean counters, he may have decided that a numbers man at the top of the company could free up the brains like Baglino to concentrate on what they do best: develop market-leading products.
Tesla's expertise in the area of highly powerful artificial intelligence is essential to its standing as a tech and EV company. Elluswamy replaced the previous senior director of AI, Andrej Karpathy and he oversees Tesla's most crucial, make-or-break technology for full self-driving. Given that Musk intends to reinvent Tesla as an AI firm with self-driving cars and robots like Optimus, Elluswamy or possibly his colleague Milan Kovac would be a likely option. Both men were recently tasked with assisting Musk in examining software flaws at his other company.
A Dark Horse
Musk is a mercurial CEO who follows his gut feelings. A great example is him forging ahead with a divisive model like the Cybertruck that had some people scratching their heads over.
He allegedly has thought about external possibilities like Herbert Diess because he may feel that an outsider would be better equipped to shake things up. The former CEO of the Volkswagen Group is renowned for being a visionary in his own right and being almost as demanding a boss as Musk. Diess, who developed a friendly rivalry with Musk, is no longer an ideal candidate because of his advanced age, but Musk may look for someone who fits a similar profile.