Tesla a company.
You want to bring the former CTO back into the fold.
JB Straubel, who left Tesla in 2019 and now runs a battery materials company, has been nominated to the automaker’s board, the company said in a regulatory statement Thursday.
Mr. Straubel joined Tesla in 2004, when the company was a little-known startup, and he’s widely credited with being instrumental in the initiatives that laid the groundwork for Tesla’s eventual transformation into the world’s most valuable automaker. He helped develop the battery pack used in Tesla’s first car, the Roadster sports car, and later worked on projects such as building the company’s network of charging stations and ramping up production of the Model 3 sedan.
Mr. Straubel’s new venture, Redwood Materials Inc. , by recycling batteries as well as scrap materials generated by battery cell manufacturers. It also works to produce the components needed to make the batteries that power electric cars. The company was founded in 2017 when Mr. Straubel was still at Tesla, and has a scrap materials agreement with the EV maker.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has remained friendly with Mr. Straubel, 47, tweeting at times about his contributions to the company.
Mr. Straubel’s expected return to Tesla comes as the Biden administration tries to boost electric vehicle adoption and spur domestic battery supply chain growth. Tesla sources its battery cells from the United States and abroad.
Mr. Straubel will succeed Hiromichi Mizuno, the former chief investment officer of the Japanese government pension investment fund, leaving Tesla with eight directors.
President Robin Denholm and Mr. Musk are both up for re-election to the board of directors at the company’s annual meeting in May. Also open to shareholders is a non-binding metric that defines the company’s executive compensation philosophy.
The shareholder proposal requires Tesla to prepare and maintain a report on what is known as key person risk, citing the importance of Mr. Musk and the lack of clarity in succession planning. Tesla has faced more pressure from investors about succession planning since Mr. Musk bought social media company Twitter Inc. last year, adding another time-consuming project to an already full board.
The company, which is urging investors to vote against the major personal risk proposal, added a section to its proxy statement about succession planning, saying it’s a topic of regular discussion.
Meanwhile, Tesla has also elevated its head in China, Tom Zhu, to the position of senior vice president to oversee the company’s automotive business.
The automaker also disclosed a business relationship with Twitter, with which it said it has commercial and support agreements.
Mr. Musk, who historically borrowed against his Tesla stock for personal expenses and business investments, now has a larger share of his stake pledged as collateral than he did in 2022. In the interim, he acquired Twitter, which was unprofitable, In a deal worth $44 billion.
About 58% of Mr. Musk’s Tesla stock is pledged as collateral for personal loans, up from about 52% last year, regulatory filings show. These numbers do not reflect the additional shares that Mr. Musk has the option to exercise.
Tesla’s board has tightened the rules around Musk’s borrowing, which has long been capped at 25% of the share value he pledged as collateral. Now, he may also be borrowing no more than $3.5 billion against his Tesla stock.
Write to Rebecca Elliott at [email protected]
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