Tesla board member says Elon Musk has identified potential successor as CEO

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 16 (Reuters) – James Murdoch, Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) director, testified in court Wednesday that Chief Executive Elon Musk has over the past few months identified someone as a potential successor at the helm of the electric car maker.

Murdoch, who did not name the potential successor, testified in a lawsuit about Musk’s 2018 Tesla pay package.

When the plaintiff’s lawyer asked him to confirm that Musk had never identified anyone as a potential CEO successor, Murdoch said, “He actually did,” adding that it happened in the “last few months.”

Some Tesla investors are worried about whether Musk can adequately focus on his role as CEO of the world’s most valuable automaker now that he’s running Twitter Inc after a lengthy buyout that he at one point tried to scrap. Murdoch testified that Musk had some Tesla engineers work at Twitter, a situation the board is monitoring.

It is not clear from Murdoch’s testimony how specific the conversation was about the successor. Antonio Gracias, a longtime friend of Musk’s who also served on Tesla’s board of directors from 2007 to 2021, testified that there had been talk of finding an “administrative CEO” to oversee sales, finance and human resources ,” so that Musk can focus his time as chief product officer, which is his most important function.” But he added that they could not find one without specifying the timing of the discussions.

Musk, who is the CEO of Twitter and the Space X rocket company, has said, among other things, “Honestly, I don’t want to be the CEO of any company.”

Musk testified that he expected reduce your time on Twitter and ultimately find a new leader to run the social media company.

On Monday, Musk said he worked through the night at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco and would continue to “work and sleep here” until the social media platform — which he recently acquired for $44 billion — is fixed.


“It’s worth noting that there’s a light-year difference between identifying someone and someone taking the job,” Tesla investor Gene Muster tweeted after the news.

At Tesla’s shareholder meeting in August, Musk was asked about the succession plan and replied, “I intend to stay with Tesla as long as I can be useful.”

At the time, Musk also said, “We have a very talented team here. So I think Tesla will continue to do very well even if I get abducted by aliens or maybe I go back to my home planet.”

Murdoch testified that Tesla’s audit committee is monitoring the Twitter situation, saying the committee has discussed having some Tesla engineers work on Twitter.

“Most of the work I understand is done. It was a short-term deployment,” he said, adding that the job was “paid for”.

“The audit committee said that if it takes away from Tesla’s work, we have to be very aware of that as well, and that we don’t want that to be the case.”

He also said Musk asked several team leaders to see if they were people interested in helping Twitter.

Musk acknowledged in his testimony that some Tesla engineers helped evaluate Twitter’s engineering teams, but said it was on a “voluntary basis” and was done “after hours.”

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin, Paresh Dave and Tom Hals; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Deepa Babington and David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Paresh Dave

Thomson Reuters

San Francisco Bay Area-based technology reporter covering Google and the rest of Alphabet Inc. He joined Reuters in 2017 after four years at the Los Angeles Times, focusing on the local technology industry.

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