Elon Musk suggested a potential successor for Tesla CEO, board director says

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Elon Musk in a
Tesla Roadster.
James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images
  • James Murdoch testified that Elon Musk identified a potential successor for the role of Tesla CEO.
  • Murdoch, a Tesla board director, made the comment during a trial over Tesla’s pay package for Musk.
  • He did not specify who Musk had suggested, but said Musk had identified them in the last few months.

Elon Musk has suggested a potential successor who could fill his role as CEO of Tesla, according to the electric-car maker’s board director, James Murdoch.

Murdoch made the comments on Wednesday during his testimony in a trial regarding a shareholder lawsuit against Tesla and Musk over the CEO’s $50 billion compensation package.

In response to a question over whether Musk has ever identified anybody as a potential successor, Murdoch said the billionaire “actually has,” but only in the “last few months.” 

A Tesla spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from Insider ahead of publication.

In the recorded deposition, which was played at the trial, Murdoch said Musk has never suggested he might be imminently leaving Tesla or reducing his involvement. However, during his live testimony, Murdoch offered more information.

“We’ve had conversations, certainly during the really tough times here,” Murdoch said. “You know, conversations about his exhaustion, about other things like that, but no, never explicit threats.”

Murdoch did not give any indication as to who the successor Musk had suggested might have been.

The billionaire has been spending a lot of time working at Twitter in recent weeks. During his earlier testimony on Wednesday, Musk said that Twitter has taken up much of his time, but he will soon be able to focus less on the social media company.

“There’s an initial burst of activity needed post acquisition to reorganize the company, but then I will reduce my time [committement] to Twitter to find somebody else to run Twitter over time,” Musk said.

During his testimony, Musk said he ultimately doesn’t want to be CEO of any company and sees himself more as an engineer than a businessman.

“My CEO role at SpaceX and also at Tesla is less about CEO, but rather that I am the one driving the technology,” Musk said. “I am responsible for the engineering of the rockets, and for the technology in the car that makes it successful.”

Musk is facing a lawsuit from Tesla shareholder Richard Tornetta over his $50 billion Tesla compensation package. In the lawsuit, Tornetta argues that Musk and the automaker breached their fiduciary duties by awarding Musk a pay package that was “beyond the bounds of reasonable judgment.” Tesla has argued that the package was necessary to secure Musk’s focus on Tesla.

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