A lot has happened in Tesla over the past year: the carmaker has faced severe production issues, worsening financial health and investigations from SEC, which have set off a string of departures from senior employees and caused the company’s stocks to plummet to lowest levels in history.
Meanwhile, the CEO, Elon Musk, who triggered Tesla’s downward spiral through a shocking tweet on August 7, just handed more ammunition to his critics after openly smoking pot during an interview on YouTube.
CEO Gets High on Live Webcast
Elon Musk has managed to get himself caught up in another controversy. The brash CEO of Tesla is known for being the bad boy of the corporate world, but his recent actions are making people question his mental health. To make things worse, Musk was seen puffing a joint on a webcast only moments before Tesla’s newly appointed accounting chief, Dave Morton, handed in his resignation letter.
Morton isn’t the only one who has given up on the automaker. Other senior employees including Gabrielle Toledano, head of HR and Sarah O’Brien, the communications head, have also departed from Tesla ever since last month’s Twitter storm. The CEO posted a tweet on August 7, announcing his plans to take the company private.
He also claimed that shareholders would be offered $420 per share and that he had already secured funding for the buyout. Later it was revealed that Tesla’s board of executives was completely blindsided by Musk’s tweet. After creating a buying frenzy on the stock market which increased Tesla’s stock value by 14 per cent, Musk abruptly pulled the plug on the privatization deal.
Senior Employees Resign
Tesla’s shares have tumbled 6 per cent on Friday ever since Musk was seen smoking marijuana on the webcast, resulting in Morton’s resignation only hours later. According to Tesla’s filing, the new Chief Accounting Officer, who was hired just a month ago, wasn’t comfortable with the amount of bad publicity Tesla has been getting recently.
Another cause of resignation cited in the filing was that he wasn’t happy with how slow things were moving at the company. The filing also said that HR head Toledano would also not be returning from her leave of absence. Her resignation comes only one year after she was hired.
The automaker is now tasked with filling vacant spots at the company’s senior management level. Only recently Tesla announced a new automotive operations president on its blog.
The title went to a former Daimler truck exec and eight-year employee at the company, Jerome Guillen. Several other promotions were also announced on Friday after detailed board and management discussions. But despite the announcements, shares barely moved.
Majority of the resignations from senior executives came after U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began in inquiry in August to investigate Musk’s decision to announce the privatization plan on Twitter, only to abort it a few days later.
Musk’s Erratic Behavior
Before the craziness escalated to new heights on Friday, Elon Musk was seen drinking, smoking pot and even wielding a sword during a live webcast alongside comedian Joe Rogan.
The footage of the CEO’s wild antics spread like wildfire across social media. While taking a puff from the joint – which Joe confirmed was legal in California – Musk said that he almost never smoked pot because he found it very bad for productivity.
In Friday’s filing, Morton said that he had no issues or disagreements with Tesla’s leadership and he strongly believed in the company.
The HR head walked away from a base salary of $350,000 along with $10 million in stock grant that was supposed to vest over the next 4 years. Meanwhile, analysts have been consistently pressuring the company to bring in a new senior leader in the position of a co-CEO or COO whose job is to assist in restructuring the leadership and work culture at Tesla.