Tesla names insider Taneja CFO as Kirkhorn steps down

A Tesla logo is seen outside a showroom of the carmaker in Beijing

A Tesla logo is seen outside a showroom of the carmaker in Beijing, China May 31, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Aug 7 (Reuters) – Tesla’s (TSLA.O) finance chief Zachary Kirkhorn has stepped down after four years in the role, the world’s most valuable automaker said on Monday and named accounting head Vaibhav Taneja in his place.

The Elon Musk-led firm did not specify a reason for the departure of Kirkhorn, who has been with Tesla for 13 years. He will remain with the company through the end of the year to aid a smooth transition.

During his tenure, Tesla posted its first quarterly profit after it launched the mass-market Model 3 compact sedan and hit a market valuation of more than $1 trillion.

Kirkhorn’s appointment in 2019 and his predecessor Deepak Ahuja’s exit were disclosed by Musk in a surprise move toward the end of a conference call with analysts to discuss the company’s quarterly results.

“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 said in a LinkedIn post.

Kirkhorn did not immediately respond to queries when contacted on LinkedIn. Tesla shares were down about 2%.

Reuters Graphics

“That he’s going to be around until the end of the year is evidence that this is just for personal reasons and the personal reason is likely that working with Elon Musk is really hard and he’s done it for 13 years,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at Deepwater Asset Management.

Taneja, 45, joined Tesla after the automaker acquired SolarCity in 2016. He takes on the role, or the so-called “Master of Coin” position, in addition to his job as chief accounting officer, the automaker said.

The Austin, Texas-based automaker this year cut prices of its cars in a move that prioritized sales growth and market share and squeezed its industry-leading margins.

Tesla has also hinted at more price cuts in what Musk called “turbulent times” as rising borrowing costs take a toll on the sales of electric-vehicle makers.

Outgoing CFO Kirkhorn was also being considered as a possible successor to Musk earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal had reported amid growing investor concern about the lack of a clear succession plan.

Musk currently leads SpaceX, Neuralink, the Boring Company and is chief technology officer at social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Arun Koyyur

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Akash reports on technology companies in the United States, electric vehicle companies, and the space industry. His reporting usually appears in the Autos & Transportation and Technology sections. He has a postgraduate degree in Conflict, Development, and Security from the University of Leeds. Akash’s interests include music, football (soccer), and Formula 1.

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