Elon Musk’s Possible Heir Departs Tesla After 13-Year Tenure, Comparable to Half a Century of Work, Analyst Remarks

Zachary Kirkhorn, a Tesla executive who was once seen as a potential successor to Elon Musk, is exiting the electric car company after a 13-year tenure working under the billionaire. Gene Munster, an analyst at the venture-capital firm Deepwater Asset Management in Minnesota, likened Kirkhorn’s time under Elon Musk to the equivalent of a 50-year employment period under a different employer. The departure of Kirkhorn was officially revealed by Tesla in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday. Additionally, the chief financial officer used LinkedIn to confirm his departure from the electric car manufacturer.

Kirkhorn’s LinkedIn account indicates that he started his journey at Tesla as a senior financial analyst in 2010, eventually becoming the chief financial officer in 2019. During his time as CFO, Tesla’s fortunes turned around, with the company becoming profitable and managing to pay off a substantial amount of debt. This transformation led to a remarkable increase in Tesla’s overall worth.

“According to Munster’s remarks to Bloomberg, Zach accomplished an impressive feat by expanding profit margins despite the common trend of declining margins as companies increase production. This balancing act is no small achievement.”

“Kirkhorn didn’t provide specific reasons for his departure from Tesla in his LinkedIn announcement. However, he expressed gratitude to Musk and described his time at Tesla as a unique and valuable experience.”

“Musk’s leadership methods have faced scrutiny recently, particularly due to his erratic approach to taking over Twitter, now known as X, which involved significant layoffs. There have also been repeated claims that he tended to dismiss employees who held differing opinions.”

“A senior engineering executive at Tesla shared with Wired in 2018 that Musk had a tendency to label individuals as unintelligent or undesirable if they made a mistake, expressed disagreement, or rubbed him the wrong way. Once Musk formed an opinion, it was challenging to alter it.”

During that particular year, 42 employees of Tesla informed Insider that the company had developed a strong devotion to Musk, likening it to a “cult.” They described Musk as a demanding leader who, while exerting pressure, also motivated them to surpass their own anticipated achievements. Dolly Singh, who previously managed talent acquisition at SpaceX, conveyed to Insider in 2014 that Musk resembled a skilled diamond crafter, applying immense pressure on his employees.

“It’s probable that he understands the challenges from the receiving end, yet he believes that maintaining pressure will drive individuals to exceed their own expectations,” she explained.

In his LinkedIn statement, Kirkhorn announced his intention to continue serving at Tesla until the appointment of Vaibhav Taneja as the new Chief Financial Officer.

“Munster expressed optimism about the transition, given Kirkhorn’s commitment to remain until the year’s end,” Bloomberg reported.

Addressing Kirkhorn’s departure in a post on X, Musk expressed gratitude for Kirkhorn’s substantial contributions to Tesla during his 13-year tenure, acknowledging the difficulties that often accompanied the journey.

“He conveyed his gratitude and extended well wishes for the next phase of his career,” he penned.

Also Read: Tesla’s CFO Zachary Kirkhorn Resigns, Vaibhav Taneja Takes Over

Musk did not promptly reply to a comment request sent outside the usual working hours.

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