Nov 16, 2022 - Economy

Elon Musk eyes potential Tesla CEO successor

Illustration of a question mark made with a car tire

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Elon Musk has recently identified someone as his potential successor to lead Tesla as CEO, according to James Murdoch, one of the company's directors.

Why it matters: Tesla investors have grown increasingly worried about Musk's divided focus since he initiated steps to buy Twitter earlier this year.

  • As the Twitter saga progressed, Tesla faced its own set of issues — including supply chain challenges in China and the erosion of profits from inflation.

Details: Murdoch made the comment while testifying in Musk's pay package trial on Wednesday.

  • In response to a question from a plaintiff's lawyer suggesting Musk has never picked anyone as a potential successor, Murdoch responded that Musk "actually has" and has in the "last few months," but didn't get into specifics, Reuters reports.

The big picture: Musk, who also testified Wednesday to defend himself against the lawsuit challenging his large compensation package, has often talked about how much he "hates doing management stuff" and how he doesn't want to "be the boss of anything."

  • "I tried not to be CEO of Tesla, but I had to or it would die. I rather hate being a boss. I’m an engineer," he said last year while testifying about Tesla's SolarCity acquisition.
  • On the stand this morning, Musk said the CEO title is not an apt description of what he does at his companies.
  • In addition to Tesla, Musk currently leads in one way or another, four other businesses — The Boring Company, SpaceX, Twitter and Neuralink.

What to watch: Musk has served as Tesla's CEO since October 2008. The pay package he accepted in 2018 stipulates that he stay on as CEO, or chief product officer and executive chairman with a CEO reporting to him, for at least a decade.

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