Robyn Denholm replaces Elon Musk as Tesla’s board chair


On Wednesday night, Tesla announced Robyn Denholm has taken Elon Musk’s place as chair of the company’s board.

She will also be leaving her role as CFO and Head of Strategy at Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, after a six-month notice period there, to focus on her work as Tesla chair full-time, the company said in a statement.

Musk was mandated to leave his role as chairman of the board at Tesla as part of a settlement with the SEC following his now infamous take-private tweets in August. Musk said, in that series of tweets, that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share, and even had some funding secured. The tweets sent shares soaring to an intraday high of $387.46 a share on Aug. 7.

Tesla’s stock, which closed at $348.16 a share Wednesday, had tumbled by more 25 percent, but began to rise especially after the electric vehicle maker reported its largest quarterly profit in the company’s history.

In the third quarter of 2018 Tesla reported about $6.8 billion in revenue and $312 million in profit for the period. It generated nearly $190 million in revenue from sales of regulatory credits.

The electric vehicle maker also delivered 83,500 cars during the third quarter, beating Wall Street analysts’ expectations. Earlier this year, Tesla had been struggling to ramp up production of its batteries and Model 3 electric sedans. In recent months, it began to move past some of its manufacturing challenges.

A Tesla spokesperson said, in an e-mail to CNBC, once Denholm leaves Telstra she will receive 8,000 stock options each year and a cash retainer of $300,000. Denholm has been an independent director on the board of Tesla since 2014.

She previously served as CFO and COO at Juniper Networks, and in a range of strategy and finance roles at Sun Microsystems, Toyota and Arthur Andersen & Co.

Here’s the release from Tesla about the news:

Tesla’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Robyn Denholm has been appointed as Chair of the Tesla Board, effective immediately. So that she will be able to devote her full attention to the Tesla Chair role, Robyn will be leaving her role as CFO and Head of Strategy at Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, once her six-month notice period with Telstra is complete. Robyn will be serving as Tesla Chair on a full-time basis.

To ensure a smooth transition during the remainder of Robyn’s time at Telstra, Elon will be a resource to Robyn and provide any support that she requests in her role as Chair. Robyn will continue to provide the necessary focus and time to Telstra during the remainder of her time there, and she will also temporarily step down as Chair of Tesla’s Audit Committee until she leaves Telstra.

Robyn has served on the Tesla Board as an independent director since 2014. Her global experience in both Australia and Silicon Valley encompasses leadership roles across a range of technology companies, including Telstra, Juniper Networks, and Sun Microsystems. She is widely credited with leading a team that drove significant increases in Juniper’s revenues, overseeing Juniper’s corporate transformation during her nine-year tenure as Chief Financial and Operations Officer. Her experience also includes numerous finance management roles in the automotive industry while at Toyota.

“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,” Robyn said.

“Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company,” said Elon. “I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.”

Clarification: This post has been updated to clarify that Robyn Denholm has taken Elon Musk’s place as chair of the company’s board.