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Tesla shareholders grapple with ‘life after Musk’ succession planning


May 16, 2023
Tesla shareholders grapple with 'life after Musk' succession planning


Though all multinational corporations have CEOs and defined management structures, most don’t rely on the charisma and celebrity of a single executive. Even Apple, whose fortunes seemed inextricably tied to Steve Jobs’ persona, introduced other leaders before the iconic executive’s death. Tesla is now grappling with that problem, as its fortunes have always been linked to its controversial CEO, Elon Musk. Automotive News reported that Tesla shareholders are set to vote on releasing a “Key-Person Risk” report, which could create a succession plan to keep the company running should something happen to Musk.

Elon’s time was stretched thin even before he bought Twitter, as he’s long overseen SpaceX, Boring Corp, and other business ventures, including an artificial intelligence startup. Tesla investors want to vote at the annual shareholder meeting today (Tuesday) on a plan to identify successors to Musk’s throne, and the board has considered company CFO Zach Kirkhorn as a potential candidate.

Musk recently announced a new Twitter CEO, which, in theory, would free up more of his time for Tesla. At the same time, he’s further split his time with the X.AI Corp, an AI startup.

Though succession is a significant issue for shareholders at this meeting, Musk also has to convince them that Tesla is on track to meet profit and revenue targets. At least on paper, Tesla appears to be finally on track to deliver a few Cybertrucks this year, almost four years since its reveal event. The automaker also faces questions around demand and pricing, as it has been aggressively cutting new vehicle pricing after a long period of price hikes. The competitive landscape has changed radically over the past two years as well, with legacy automakers jumping into the EV game at a rapid pace. Though buzzworthy, the Cybertruck would have given Tesla an early mover advantage in the electric pickup segment, but delays have meant that the futuristic EV will face several big-name rivals out of the gate that are close to or already on the market, including the Ford F-150 Lightning, Rivian R1T, and upcoming electric trucks from GM and Ram.


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