Tesla board member says Elon Musk identified potential successor as CEO

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

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

Asked by a plaintiff’s attorney to confirm that Musk had never identified anyone as a potential successor to the CEO, Murdoch replied, “He did,” adding that it had happened at the time. over the “last few months”.

Some Tesla investors are concerned about whether Musk can adequately focus on his role as CEO of the world’s most valuable automaker now that he leads Twitter Inc after a protracted takeover he once attempted. to delete. Murdoch said Musk made Tesla engineers work on Twitter, a situation the board is monitoring.

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

Musk, CEO of Twitter and rocket company Space X, said, “Frankly, I don’t want to be CEO of any company.”

Musk testified that he expected to reduce his 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 has recently acquired for 44 billion dollars – be repaired.

“WHILE I CAN BE USEFUL”

“It should be noted that there is a light year gap between identifying someone and having someone take the job,” tweeted Tesla investor Gene Muster afterward. the new.

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

At the time, Musk also said, “We have a very talented team here, so I think Tesla would continue to operate very well even if I was kidnapped by aliens or maybe returned to my home planet. “

Murdoch said Tesla’s audit committee is monitoring the situation on Twitter, saying the committee has had discussions about having some Tesla engineers work on Twitter.

“Most of the work, to my knowledge, has been done. It was a short-term deployment,” he said, adding that the work was “paid”.

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

He also said Musk had asked a few team leaders to see if they were anyone interested in helping Twitter.

Musk acknowledged in his testimony that some Tesla engineers help evaluate Twitter’s engineering teams, but he said it was “voluntary” and 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.

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