Investor's Corner

Tesla (TSLA) plunges 6% amid new executive departures, Musk’s cannabis whiff during podcast

Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) is down 6% in Friday’s intraday amid reports that the company lost two more executives, with Chief Accounting Officer David H. Morton, Jr. leaving his post after just two months and Chief People Officer Gabrielle Toledano confirming that she would not be coming back from a leave. Today also stands as Tesla VP of Comms Sarah O’Brien’s last official day at the company.

The latest round of executive departures comes after Elon Musk opted to walk away from his initiative to take the company private last month. Tesla noted in a statement to Reuters that Morton opted to depart from the company due to his discomfort with the level of public attention and Tesla’s overall pace of work. Morton is a veteran in the tech sector, serving as the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Seagate before starting his employment at Tesla. That said, his experience was probably not a good fit for the electric car maker’s startup culture, which is characterized by its flat organizational structure and its fast pace.

Overall, Morton appears to have parted ways with Tesla amicably, stating that he still believes in the company’s overall mission, as well as its future prospects.

“I want to be clear that I believe strongly in Tesla, its mission, and its future prospects, and I have no disagreements with Tesla’s leadership or its financial reporting,” he said.

Statements from Chief People Officer Gabrielle Toledano have not been reported as of writing.

Even before the announcement of Morton’s departure, the company’s shares were already seeing a slight decline in Friday’s pre-market trading as reports of Elon Musk’s behavior in a podcast with comedian Joe Rogan emerged. During the 2.5-hr podcast, the two men talked about several topics, from AI to time management to vertical liftoff airplanes and Japanese feudal weapons. At one point, Rogan, who was smoking cannabis, invited Elon Musk to take a puff. Musk did, and the image of the CEO smoking cannabis immediately spread on social media like wildfire.

The latest drop in Tesla’s stock has caused Consumer Edge analyst James Albertine to call for the company to appoint another senior leader to support Elon Musk. Musk has admitted that running an electric car and energy company like Tesla is exhausting, and in an interview with the New York Times last month, Musk stated that anyone who could do a better job can take over for him anytime. Considering the recent stock drop, as well as the apparent effects of Musk’s little cannabis puff to Tesla shareholders, Albertine noted that the time might be right for Tesla’s Board to step in.

“We have been calling for a Co-CEO or COO to assist to codifying the leadership structure and in so doing, the culture at Tesla. We think this is further evidence that the time is now for management and the Board to address these issues,” Albertine said.

The plunge in Tesla’s stock comes just a day after Elon Musk expressed his support for a report estimating the US sales figures for electric cars currently available in the United States. The report, which was published by electric car-themed news site InsideEVs, estimated that the Tesla Model 3, Model S, and Model X, were the Top 3 electric cars in the US in August. A report from auto sales tracking website GoodCarBadCar also listed the Model 3 as the 5th best-selling passenger car in America last month, in a list that included mainstream vehicles like the Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, and the Honda Accord.

As of writing, Tesla stock is down 6.64% at $263.13 per share.

Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.

Tesla (TSLA) plunges 6% amid new executive departures, Musk’s cannabis whiff during podcast
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