Tesla CFO Kirkhorn to resign, be replaced by CAO Taneja in leadership shakeup at Musk company

 August 9, 2023

A substantial change in the corporate leadership of billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk's Tesla is in the works following a major announcement earlier this week.

Tesla's Chief Financial Officer Zach Kirkhorn has resigned from that role and will be replaced by the company's Chief Accounting Officer Vaibhav Taneja, according to Breitbart.

Though Kirkhorn's resignation was effective as of Friday, August 4, he will reportedly stay on at Tesla until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition to Taneja's tenure in that senior executive position, and based on public comments from both Kirkhorn and Musk, it appears that his departure from the electric vehicle company will be on good terms.

Leadership change revealed in SEC filing

CNBC first reported on Monday about the announced news of the change in executive leadership at Tesla that was effective as of Friday -- news that initially sent Tesla's stock tumbling by as much as 3 percent, though it mostly recovered to end the trading day down by around just 1 percent.

The leadership change was formally revealed via a Monday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission which noted that Taneja, in addition to his current role as CAO at Tesla, had also taken on the CFO position as Kirkhorn's successor effective as of August 4.

August 4 was listed as the effective date of resignation for Kirkhorn, who has worked at Tesla for 13 years and served as the CFO since 2019, and will stay on until the end of 2023 in order to help "support a seamless transition."

According to the filing, Taneja has served as CAO at Tesla since 2019 and been with the company since 2017. Prior to joining Tesla, he briefly served in various accounting and finance roles at SolarCity and, prior to that, was employed for 17 years at Pricewaterhouse Cooper -- which is Tesla's financial auditor, per CNBC.

The financial news outlet noted that this was the second change to the CFO position at Tesla in four years, as Kirkhorn replaced previous CFO Deepak Ahuja in 2019, though the impact on Tesla's stock had been more significant following that prior change as the company's value had dropped around 4.5 percent at that time.

Kirkhorn thanks fellow Tesla employees and Musk

In a Monday post to his LinkedIn account, Kirkhorn announced his resignation and succession by current CAO Taneja as the new CFO of Tesla.

"Being a part of this company is a special experience and I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done together since I joined over 13 years ago," Kirkhorn wrote.

"As I shift my responsibilities to support this transition, I want to thank the talented, passionate, and hard-working employees at Tesla, who have accomplished things many thought not possible," he continued.

The outgoing executive added, "I also want to thank Elon for his leadership and optimism, which has inspired so many people"

Musk expresses appreciation and "best wishes" for Kirkhorn

Musk issued a brief statement of his own on Monday on his X/Twitter platform that, in conjunction with Kirkhorn's statement, suggested that there are no hard feelings between the two Tesla executives and that the leadership change was one that was made on good terms.

"I would like to thank Zach Kirkhorn for his many contributions to Tesla over the course of 13 often difficult years," Musk wrote. "Much appreciated and best wishes for the next stage of his career."

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