Under regulatory pressure, Tesla has appointed a new leader for his council as he tries to mitigate concerns about his stability under Elon Musk, his colorful but irregular co-founder.
The electric car company said on Wednesday night that Robyn Denholm, a board member since 2014 and a long-term executive director of technology and telecommunications, will become president immediately. Mr Musk will remain Tesla's CEO. Mrs Denholm is today Telstra's Chief Financial Officer, who dominates telecoms in Australia.
The move to replace Mr. Musk as president was part of an agreement reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission in September to address the consequences of Twitter's position in August that it had secured funding for a private takeover of the company. This requirement quickly struck. (Mr. Musk later explained in a blog that talks with Saudi Arabian State Investment Fund led him to believe he had both money and enthusiasm for such an agreement).
Under this agreement, Tesla agreed to add two independent directors to the board and name a new president, splitting responsibilities from Mr Musk's post as managing director next Tuesday. The company was also required to set up a standing committee to monitor Mr Musk's statements, including his posts on Twitter.
Erik Gordon, a professor at Ross School of Business at Michigan University, said that Mrs Denholm's appointment "technically complies with" S.E.C. but he questioned how much Mrs. Denholm could promote a strong personality like Mr Mosk.
"If the goal is to provide adult supervision, it will not do that," said Gordon. "He has gone to the board through all the shenanigans, never resigned, he is a supporter of the musicians, and if it does not work, she will be the one who is going away.
David Whiston, an analyst at Morningstar following Tesla, said the appointment was "a good balance" and was probably better for Tesla's stock price. Bringing to a tough outsider "who would not put up with Elon's Twitter nonsense," he added, "it will collide with Elon and it will not work at all."
Tesla's shares rose about 1% on Thursday afternoon.
Nevertheless, Mr Whiston also expressed doubts about how much Mrs Denholm will be able to maintain Mr Musk. In recent weeks, the CEO has referred to S.E.C. on Twitter as the "Enrichment Commission"And then he announced that he no longer had a title in Tesla, asking questions about whether he would continue to have the last word, even with a new leader of the board.
"It is annoying to me that since the village of Elona has already made a mockery of the SEE twice," said Mr Whiston. He said that Mr. Musk should "stop playing games and just do the darn cars."
The new president of Tesla has an extensive background in technology. Prior to her current position at Telstra, Denholm was an executive member of Juniper Networks, which makes computer networking equipment for about a decade.
He also has experience in the automotive industry. He spent seven years at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia, where he was National Finance Director, before leaving Sun Microsystems, a unique Silicon Valley power plant later acquired by Oracle, in 1996.
Tesla said that Ms Denholm will step down from her role in Telstra as soon as the six-month warning is completed.
Mr Whiston said that Denholm's plan to leave Telstra "shows a commitment to Tesla to make sure that this oversight has been done properly." Professor Gordon, however, warned that as soon as he left Telstra, Tesla's president, "Making it less likely to face Mr Musk. "It will be a job he does not want to lose," he said.
Mr Musk announced the change in the typical way – on Twitter.
In the Tesla statement, Mr. Musk reported Mrs Denholm's experience and years with his company. "Robyn has a lot of experience both in technology and in the automotive industry and has contributed considerably as a member of Tesla's board of directors over the past four years, helping us become a profitable company." I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy. "
Mr. Musk has galvanized investors and public imagination with his stylish electric cars and his big dreams of space travel and other ambitions. But his statements have created more and more Tesla shareholders and board directors who represent them. Production problems in Tesla added only these concerns.
In addition to annoying tweet about a takeover, Mr. Musk showed other signs of anxiety. He had a nasty battle of social media with a British diver who participated in the bold rescue of 12 boyfriends in a flooded cave in Thailand this summer – fast on foot.
In August, Mr Musk told The New York Times that this year "was the hardest and most painful year of my career," partly because of the pressure of Tesla's operation, and that she sometimes got sleeping in the sleep of Ambien sleeping . Some board members worried that the drug was contributing to late twenties on Twitter.
In September, she appeared to smoke marijuana for a while during an interview with comedian Joe Rogan. (The interview took place in California where the use of recreational marijuana is legal.)
S.E.C. the purpose of the settlement was to put some of these worries about rest. Last month, Tesla showed positive financial results, indicating that he is starting to solve some of his problems.