Tesla board member says Elon Musk has identified a possible successor as CEO

Tesla board member says Elon Musk has identified a possible successor as CEO
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SAN FRANCISCO, November 16 (Reuters) – James Murdoch, a Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) director, testified in court on Wednesday that CEO Elon Musk has in recent months identified someone as a potential successor to lead the electric carmaker.

Murdoch, who did not name a possible successor, was testifying in a trial over Musk’s 2018 Tesla pay package.

Asked by a plaintiff’s attorney to confirm that Musk had never identified anyone as a potential successor to the CEO, Murdoch said: “Actually he has,” adding that that happened in the “last few months.”

Some Tesla investors are concerned on whether Musk can properly focus on his role as CEO of the world’s most valuable automaker now that he’s been at the helm of Twitter Inc after a protracted buyout he once tried to scrap. Murdoch testified that Musk has had some Tesla engineers work on Twitter, a situation the board is monitoring.

Murdoch’s testimony did not make clear how specific the successor conversation was. Antonio Gracias, a longtime friend of Musk’s who was also a Tesla board member from 2007 to 2021, testified that there were talks to find a “managing CEO” to oversee sales, finance and human resources “so Musk can focus his time as Head of Official Product which is his most vital role.” But he added that they couldn’t find one, without elaborating on the timing of the discussions.

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

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

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

“As long as I can be useful”

“It’s worth noting that there’s a light-year gap between identifying someone and getting that someone to take 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 at Tesla for as long as I can be useful.”

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

Murdoch testified that Tesla’s audit committee is monitoring the Twitter situation and said the committee discussed the possibility of some Tesla engineers working at Twitter.

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

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

He also said that Musk asked some team leaders if they were interested in helping Twitter.

Musk acknowledged in his testimony that some Tesla engineers were helping to test 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; Edited by Jonathan Oatis, Deepa Babington, and David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

paresh dave

Thomson Reuters

Technology reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area 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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