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

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – James Murdoch, CEO of Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O), testified in court on Wednesday that CEO Elon Musk had in the past few months identified someone as a potential successor to head the electric carmaker.

Murdoch, who did not name the potential successor, was testifying at a trial about Musk’s 2018 Tesla wage package.

When asked by the plaintiff’s attorney to confirm that Musk never named anyone as the CEO and potential heir, Murdoch said “he’s already done that,” adding that it happened in the “past few months.”

Some Tesla investors worry about whether Musk can focus enough on his role as CEO of the world’s most important automaker now that he’s running Twitter Inc after a drawn-out buyout he at one point tried to cancel. Murdoch testified that Musk had some Tesla engineers work at Twitter, a situation the board is monitoring.

Marduk’s testimony does not make clear how accurate the conversation about the caliph was. Antonio Gracias, a longtime friend of Musk who was also a member of Tesla’s board of directors from 2007 to 2021, testified that there have been talks about finding a “managing exec” who would “oversee sales, finance and human resources” so that Musk could focus his time as the chief product officer and he its most important function. But he added that they were unable to find one, without elaborating on the timing of the discussions.

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

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

On Monday, Musk said he worked all 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.

As useful as I can be

Tesla investor Gene Muster tweeted after the news: “It’s worth noting that there is a light-year gap between selecting someone and having that person take the job.”

At Tesla’s shareholder meeting in August, Musk was asked about his 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 situation at Twitter, saying the committee had discussions about having some Tesla engineers work at Twitter.

“Most of the work I understood was done. It was a short term publication,” he said, adding that the work was “paid”.

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

He also said that Musk has asked some team leaders to see if they would be interested in helping Twitter.

In his testimony, Musk acknowledged that some Tesla engineers were helping evaluate engineering teams at Twitter, but said that was on a “voluntary basis” and carried out “after hours.”

Additional reporting by Hyunjoo-jin, Paresh Dev and Tom Hales; Editing by Jonathan Otis, Debbie Babbington, and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Parish Dave

Thomson Reuters

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

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