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

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 16 (Reuters) – James Murdoch, a director of Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), testified in court on Wednesday that CEO Elon Musk has in recent months identified someone as a potential successor to lead the electric car maker .

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

When asked by an accuser’s attorney to confirm that Musk has never identified anyone as a potential successor to the CEO, Murdoch said, “He really has,” adding that this has happened in the “past few months.” .

Some Tesla investors are concerned about whether Musk can focus enough on his role as CEO of the world’s most valuable automaker now that he runs 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 watching.

It was not clear from Murdoch’s testimony how specific the conversation about the successor was. Antonio Gracias, a longtime friend of Musk’s who also served as a board member of Tesla from 2007 to 2021, testified that there were talks about finding an “administrative CEO” to oversee sales, finance and human resources “so Musk can spend his time as a main product.” concentrating officer, which is his most vital function.” But he added that they couldn’t find any, without commenting on the timing of the discussions.

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

Musk testified that he expects to reduce his time at Twitter and eventually find a new leader to run the social media company.

On Monday, Musk said he had been working all night at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters and would “work and sleep here” until the social media platform — which he recently acquired for $44 billion — was repaired.

“AS LONG AS I CAN BE USEFUL”

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

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

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

Murdoch testified that Tesla’s audit committee is monitoring the Twitter situation and said the committee had discussions about letting some Tesla engineers work at Twitter.

“Most of the work I understand has been done. It was a temporary deployment,” he said, adding that the work is “paid”.

“The audit committee has said if it takes work away from Tesla, that’s something we should also be very aware of and we don’t want it to be.”

He also said Musk asked a few team heads to see if they were people interested in helping Twitter.

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

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

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

Parish Dave

Thomson Reuters

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

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