Tesla's Done The Unthinkable And Replaced Elon Musk As Chairman

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The new chairwoman has experience in both the tech and auto industries.

Few things may have seemed as inevitable yet unthinkable at the same time as Tesla ousting Elon Musk as chairman. But that's just what it did late last week.

Though Musk will remain as chief executive officer, the electric-vehicle manufacturer he founded has named Robyn Denholm as chair of the board of directors. Denholm has served on Tesla's board as an independent director since 2014, and has until now headed up its audit committee. She'll be stepping down from her role as CFO and head of strategy at Australian telecom giant Telstra to take up her new role.


Denholm is a veteran of the tech sector, bouncing between Australia and Silicon Valley, where she worked for Sun Microsystems and Juniper Networks. But she also has experience in the automotive industry, having also worked in the finance department at Toyota.

Her greatest strength, though, may be how different she is from Musk, who she'll be responsible for raining in and keep Tesla on the straight and narrow path as it transitions from the scrappy upstart disruptor to one of the world's largest producers of electric vehicles. The move to oust Musk as chairman and replace him with a cooler head has been a long time coming.

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It came to a head recently, however, after the notoriously impulsive chief executive tweeted his intention to buy back shares in his company from investors and take it private again. The statement drew the ire and unwanted attention of financial regulators at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, prompting shareholders to call for his dismissal.

"Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years," said Musk. "I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy."

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