Moving forward

Tesla introduces Elon Musk’s replacement as new board chairwoman

New Tesla Chairwoman Robyn Denholm. (Tesla)

Electric car manufacturer Tesla named longtime technology executive Robyn Denholm to serve as the company’s new board chair on Wednesday night. The former chair, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk had been forced to temporarily step down from the position by a deal he made with securities regulators in September. Musk had attracted attention from authorities in August after he posted to Twitter claiming to have secured private funding from Saudi Arabian investors for a buyout of the company — a move that cause the company’s stock price to skyrocket. It was later revealed that no such deal had been reached, prompting an investigation that culminated in Musk’s agreement to a settlement that required Tesla appoint two independent directors to its board, name a new chair, and set up a permanent committee to monitor Musk’s public declarations — including those made on social media.

Denholm, who is currently chief financial officer of Australian telecommunications giant Telstra, has been a Tesla board member since 2014. Before taking the job at Telstra, she served as an executive at computer networking equipment manufacturer Juniper Networks for about a decade, and also spent seven years in the auto industry as national manager for finance at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia. In a statement, Tesla said that Denholm was assuming her new duties as chairwoman of the board immediately, and that she would step away from her role at Telstra following the completion of her six-month notice period.

In his customary style, Musk took to Twitter to congratulate Denholm. In a statement, he hailed her “extensive experience” and “significant contributions” to the company, adding that he would “look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.”

Musk’s use of social media, which at times has been erratic, had become a distraction for Tesla in recent months — including a series of incidents in which Musk responded to criticism from a British diver who helped save 12 boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand by claiming, without evidence, that the diver was a pedophile. In August, Musk admitted that he had taken to using sleep drug Ambien to combat insomnia — a factor that some Tesla board members suggested may have been influencing his controversial late-night Twitter use.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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