Select Page

Pro-Tesla blog electrek is starting to allude to another "red pill" reality that many skeptics have long thought the company may soon face: Elon Musk's top lieutenant and Tesla CTO J.B. Straubel doesn't appear to be coming around his Palo Alto office too much anymore.

In addition, he is not waiting for Tesla stock to appreciate further to hit the bid, having sold about ~$3 million worth in TSLA shares after exercising a slug of options recently. As the blog post notes, the options recently sold were not set to expire until 2022. Straubel's sales now hardly do anything to inspire confidence - perhaps this could be because Straubel may be on his way out?

According to the report, two sources who have worked with Straubel  said that his presence at Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto has been “scarce” over the last 6-8 months. 

Despite his absence at headquarters, he did appear on the company's most recent conference call. Straubel has led numerous battery and power electronics initiatives for Tesla during his time there and had been considered by many to be Musk's second in command.

As the article notes, Straubel has been "credited with bringing Elon Musk on board and therefore, he technically predates Musk at the company." Recall, it was about one year ago that safe harbour language that associated key person risk with Straubel by name was removed from Tesla's SEC filings. 

From the company's 10-K, filed in February 2018:

If we are unable to attract and/or retain key employees and hire qualified personnel, our ability to compete could be harmed.

The loss of the services of any of our key employees could disrupt our operations, delay the development and introduction of our vehicles and services, and negatively impact our business, prospects and operating results. In particular, we are highly dependent on the services of Elon Musk, our Chief Executive Officer, and Jeffrey B. Straubel, our Chief Technical Officer.

None of our key employees is bound by an employment agreement for any specific term and we may not be able to successfully attract and retain senior leadership necessary to grow our business. Our future success depends upon our ability to attract and retain executive officers and other key technology, sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing and support personnel and any failure to do so could adversely impact our business, prospects, financial condition and operating results.

And from subsequent filings:

If we are unable to attract and/or retain key employees and hire qualified personnel, our ability to compete could be harmed.

The loss of the services of any of our key employees could disrupt our operations, delay the development and introduction of our vehicles and services, and negatively impact our business, prospects and operating results. None of our key employees is bound by an employment agreement for any specific term and we may not be able to successfully attract and retain senior leadership necessary to grow our business. Our future success depends upon our ability to attract and retain executive officers and other key technology, sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing and support personnel and any failure to do so could adversely impact our business, prospects, financial condition and operating results.

The loss of Straubel could amount to the most meaningful executive departure at Tesla thus far, despite the litany of executives who have already left. We think electrek's take on the situation says it all:

Of all the things that happened at Tesla over the last few months, learning from two reliable sources that JB was making himself scarce lately was definitely one of the most worrying to me.

He always seemed to be an important reason behind Tesla’s long-standing technology lead in the EV space.

Tesla did not respond to electrek for a comment.