During Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call, CEO Elon Musk announced that longtime Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel would be stepping back from his active duties and taking a senior advisor role in the electric car maker. Taking his place as Tesla’s full-time CTO will be Vice President of Technology Drew Baglino, who also boasts a long tenure with the company.
While his departure from his active post as CTO came as a surprise, Straubel was quick to point out that he is not disappearing from Tesla. With his senior advisor role, he will still be working on several of Tesla’s bleeding edge initiatives, particularly those that involve new technologies and innovations. Straubel even remarked that he is quite excited to keep working on a number of projects.
“I’m not disappearing, and I just wanted to make sure that people understand that this was not some, you know, lack of confidence in the company, or the team, or anything like that. I love the Tesla team,” he said, adding that he has full confidence in the capabilities of his successor, Drew Baglino.
Baglino, for his part, noted that it would not be an easy task living up to Straubel’s legacy. “I’ll just say, you know, obviously, big, big shoes to fill,” Baglino said.
While discussing Straubel’s departure from his active CTO post and his years with the company, Musk sounded notably emotional. The two men, after all, have been with Tesla since its early days — Straubel being the engineer behind the company’s battery technologies and Musk being the company’s primary investor. Prior to his work at Tesla, Musk had already been funding Straubel’s research in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.
The longtime CEO’s transition to a senior advisory role comes as the second C-suite change in the company. Earlier this year, longtime CFO Deepak Ahuja announced his (second) retirement from Tesla, naming the young yet veteran employee Zach Kirkhorn as his successor.