Elon Musk has to step down as the chairman of Tesla's board — here are 8 people who could replace him

  • As a result of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Tesla CEOElon Musk will have to step down as the chairman of the automaker’s board of directors for three years.
  • Tesla’s board has been criticised for failing to hold Musk accountable for erratic behaviour that has at times caused the company’s stock price to fall.
  • The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that current Tesla director James Murdoch is the leading candidate to become the board’s next chairman.
  • Other possible candidates include Al Gore, Warren Buffett, and Alan Mulally.

As a result of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),TeslaCEO Elon Musk will have to step down as the chairman of the automaker’s board of directors for three years. Musk has held the position since the automaker was founded in 2003.

The settlement came after the SEC filed a lawsuit against Musk, accusing him of making “false and misleading statements” in August about the possibility of taking Tesla private. Musk said he was “deeply saddened and disappointed” by the lawsuit, which he called “unjustified,” but it may end up working in Tesla’s favour.

Musk has received criticism for his erratic behaviour this year, which has included joking about the company’s financial situation, sparring with Wall Street analysts on an earnings call, accusing a British diver of being a pedophile without offering evidence, and even taking aim at the SEC just four days after his settlement with the government agency.

A company’s board of directors is supposed to oversee its management team and make sure it’s working in the best interests of the company’s shareholders. But some have criticised Tesla’s directors, many of whom have connections to Musk’s other businesses, for failing to hold Musk accountable for behaviour that has at times caused the company’s stock price to fall. A new director could help the board repair its reputation.

But the job won’t be easy. Tesla employees have described Musk as a stubborn, demanding, and temperamental boss. Tesla’s new chairman will be tasked with steering Musk from his worst impulses without suppressing a leadership style employees have said inspires them to operate at their best.

The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that current Tesla director James Murdoch is the leading candidate to become the board’s next chairman. Like chairman candidates floated by Recode founder Kara Swisher and publications like Bloomberg, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, he has experience in highly-visible, pressure-filled positions.

Here are eight possible candidates to be the next chairman of Tesla’s board of directors.


Alan Mulally

Spencer Platt/Getty

Mulally was the president and CEO of Ford from 2006 to 2014. Before that, he was the executive vice president of Boeing and the president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Aeroplanes.

Source: Bloomberg, CNBC, Wall Street Journal


Al Gore

Al Gore was the US Vice President from 1993 to 2001. Before that, he was a member of the US Senate and House of Representatives.

Source: Bloomberg


Jim McNerney

McNerney was the chairman, president, and CEO of Boeing from 2005 to 2015. Before that, he was the president and CEO of 3M and General Electric Aircraft Engines.

Source: Bloomberg


Indra Nooyi

Nooyi has been the CEO of PepsiCo since 2006 and the company’s chairman since 2007. She has said she will step down as CEO in October and as the chairman of Pepsi’s board in early 2019.

Source: CNBC, Wall Street Journal


Gary Cohn

Drew Angerer/Getty imagesGary Cohn.

Cohn was the director of the National Economic Council from January 2017 to April 2018. He previously worked as the president and COO of Goldman Sachs.

Source: CNBC


James Murdoch

Greg Sandoval/Business InsiderJames Murdoch.

Murdoch has been the CEO of 21st Century Fox since 2015 and is a member of Tesla’s board of directors. He has previously served as the CEO of British Sky Broadcasting and Star Television.

The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Murdoch is the leading candidate to become Tesla’s new board chairman.


Warren Buffett

Alex Wong / Getty ImagesWarren Buffett.

Buffett has been the CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway since 1970 and is one of the most successful investors in American history.

Source: Wall Street Journal


Howard Schultz

Schultz was the CEO of Starbucks from 1987-2000 and from 2008-2017. He has also served as the company’s chairman.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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