Tesla to Eberhard: See Ya

eberhard.jpgIt’s becoming clear that the CEO shuffle at Silicon Valley electric car startup Tesla wasn’t exactly a friendly one. Last Friday, Tesla said company co-founder and former CEO, Martin Eberhard, who had stepped down in August to become the president of technology, will now transition from the board of directors and executive management of the company to the advisory board.

And if this forum is to be believed, Eberhard this weekend responded with a statement of his own:

Yes it is true — I am no longer with Tesla Motors — neither on its Board of Directors nor an employee of any sort. I have also signed a non-disparagement agreement with Tesla, so I must. by contract, be a bit careful about how I word things. But I am also not going to lie about it. I am not at all happy with the way I was treated, and I do not think this was the very best way to handle a transition — not the best for Tesla Motors, not the best for Tesla’s customers (to whom I still feel a strong sense of responsibility), and not for Tesla’s investors.

musk.jpgWe can imagine the fisticuffs that went on between Eberhard and Elon Musk, Tesla’s Chairman and significant funding source. Check out Inc. magazine’s December profile of Musk for more details on that relationship. Musk is also a co-founder of PayPal, as well as the brains behind solar installer SolarCity and aerospace startup SpaceX. One sentence in particular about the CEO transition caught my eye:

“Musk, who several months ago demoted Eberhard to president of technology and installed an interim CEO, argues that…”

Hmmm, interesting, because here’s Eberhard description of the transition (in his own words, on the Tesla blog) back in August:

I initiated a CEO search many months ago as Tesla Motors has grown in size and complexity beyond twice the size and at least five times the complexity of any organization I have run before. I was becoming concerned that my own inexperience with large organizations and operations would soon become a limitation for the company’s success, and I set the machinery of change in motion in advance of any problems.

Anyway, according to the forum post Eberhard will look forward, and says:

For my part, I am a free man. I will probably spend the next 6 months thinking about my next venture. I still care about the things that concerned me 5 years ago, so I will look for another opportunity to contribute to solving the dual problems of global warming and oil dependency. Hopefully, I will begin posting my own blog at www.teslafounders.com.


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