During Kirkhorn’s tenure as finance chief, Tesla achieved significant milestones, including its first quarterly profit following the launch of the mass-market Model 3 compact sedan. An extraordinary market valuation of over $1 trillion accompanied this achievement.
Zachary Kirkhorn, the head of finance at Tesla, has decided to leave his position after four years with the most valuable automaker in the world, the company announced on Monday. In his place, Vaibhav Taneja, the accounting head, has been appointed to take over the role.
The Elon Musk-led company has not disclosed the reason for Kirkhorn’s departure. Having been with Tesla for an impressive 13 years, Kirkhorn will remain with the company until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition.
His appointment to the role in 2019 and the exit of his predecessor, Deepak Ahuja, were both revealed by Elon Musk during an unexpected moment in a conference call with analysts, where they discussed the company’s quarterly results.
Reflecting on his time at Tesla, Kirkhorn expressed his pride in the work they accomplished together during his 13-year journey with the company, as shared in a LinkedIn post. However, he has not responded to inquiries regarding his departure on the same platform. The news of Kirkhorn’s step-down impacted Tesla’s shares, which were down approximately 2%.
Gene Munster, the managing partner at Deepwater Asset Management, offered his perspective on the situation, speculating that Kirkhorn’s decision may be driven by personal reasons. He suggested that the challenges of working alongside Elon Musk for such a long period could have played a significant role in his departure.
Vaibhav Taneja, aged 45, became a part of Tesla when the automaker acquired SolarCity in 2016. Alongside his existing role as chief accounting officer, he will now take on the position of finance chief, known colloquially as the “Master of Coin.”
This year, Tesla made strategic moves to cut prices on its cars, prioritizing sales growth and market share, which impacted its industry-leading margins. The automaker has also hinted at potential future price cuts, with Elon Musk referring to the current climate as “turbulent times,” particularly due to rising borrowing costs affecting electric vehicle sales.
It is worth noting that prior to Kirkhorn’s resignation, he was reportedly being considered as a possible successor to Elon Musk, as per the Wall Street Journal. This consideration came amid growing concerns among investors about the lack of a clear succession plan for Musk’s leadership positions across various companies, including SpaceX, Neuralink, The Boring Company, and his role as chief technology officer at the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter).
As changes take place in Tesla’s financial leadership, the company will continue to navigate the dynamic landscape of the automotive industry under the visionary leadership of Elon Musk. The impact of these transitions and the strategic decisions made in the coming months will be closely monitored by investors, stakeholders, and automotive enthusiasts worldwide.