Elon Musk’s replacement as the chair of Tesla has been named and it is Robyn Denholm, an Australian executive who has been a director with the electric vehicle firm since 2014.
The selection of Denholm indicates a preference for an independent executive who’s also highly familiar with the company’s expanding auto and energy businesses. In accepting the job, she’ll leave her position as CFO and head of strategy for Australia’s Telstra Corp. to focus full time on Tesla, the electric-car company said in a statement.
There’s been plenty of speculation as to who will replace Musk — the figurehead of Tesla’s business — after he announced in September that he would step down as the firm’s chairman. Musk’s resignation was part of a settlement with the SEC, which found Tesla guilty of failing to require disclosure controls and procedures relating to a tweet from Musk about taking the company private. Tesla later confirmed it would remain a public entity despite Musk’s tweets.
The SEC deal included a $20 million fine for Musk who retained his position as CEO and the confidence of the board.
Denholm has extensive experience in the automotive industry beyond her time with Tesla. Her career includes a seven-year stint with Toyota Australia, and she has also worked for tech giants Juniper Networks and Sun Microsystems. She is a graduate of the University of Sydney, where she studied economics, and holds a Master’s degree in Commerce from the University of New South Wales.
“I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value,” Denholm said in a statement.
“Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company. I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy,” Musk added.
Musk was mandated to leave his role as chairman of the board at Tesla as part of a settlement with the SEC following his now infamous take-private tweets in August. Musk said, in that series of tweets, that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share, and even had some funding secured. The tweets sent shares soaring to an intraday high of $387.46 a share on Aug. 7.
Tesla’s stock, which closed at $348.16 a share Wednesday, had tumbled by more 25 percent, but began to rise especially after the electric vehicle maker reported its largest quarterly profit in the company’s history.
In the third quarter of 2018 Tesla reported about $6.8 billion in revenue and $312 million in profit for the period. It generated nearly $190 million in revenue from sales of regulatory credits.
It is unclear if the loss of the chairman role will change Elon Musk’s behavior. Current Tesla’s CEO, famous for his lack of restraint on Twitter, has seemed to make light of the issue. On Oct. 30, he tweeted that he had deleted his titles and would go by “the Nothing of Tesla,” before adding in another message that the company was legally required to have some titles and suggested he would go by president.
Days later, the company filed paperwork with the SEC that continued to call him CEO.
That tweet was part of a series of statements since the SEC settlement that seemed to poke fun at it without crossing a line to anger the agency into taking new action. On Oct. 4, he appeared to mock the SEC in a tweet labeling the agency as the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission,” a reference to his feud with investors who are betting against Tesla.
With Tim Higgins, Lora Kolodny and