Robyn Denholm replaces Elon Musk as Tesla chairman

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2020 Tesla Roadster

2020 Tesla Roadster

Tesla late on Wednesday named Robyn Denholm as its new chairman to replace Elon Musk, effective immediately.

Musk was forced to give up the role as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over a lawsuit filed against him for his infamous “funding secured” tweet made in August in regards to taking Tesla private, though he remains CEO of the electric car manufacturer. Musk and Tesla were also fined $20 million each as part of the deal.

Denholm has been a Tesla board member since 2014 and has extensive experience in the finance and tech fields. She is widely credited with leading a team that drove significant increases in Juniper’s revenues, during the nine years she served as CFO for the networking firm. Her previous job was in her native Australia where she served as CFO and head of strategy of communications firm Telstra.

Interestingly, another Australian, James Murdoch, son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, was rumored for the chairman role at Tesla. Like Denholm, Murdoch is also a Tesla board member.

Robyn Denholm

Robyn Denholm

“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.

The news comes just weeks after Tesla posted net profit of $312 million for the third quarter, by far its largest ever. Since it went public in 2010, Tesla has posted a profit in only two quarters: once in 2013 and again in 2016. During that time it's burned through more than $6 billion.

The company is also building a record number of cars, despite its Model 3 still only available in the United States and Canada. Tesla delivered close to 70,000 units in the third quarter and secured a site in China for a new car plant.

Tesla isn't completely out of the woods yet, however. Established automakers have started introducing high-volume electric cars. Tesla also revealed last week that the SEC has subpoenaed information about statements made in 2017 about Model 3 production to determine whether Musk misled investors about Tesla's capacity to build the car.

 
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