Tesla names Indian-origin executive Vaibhav Taneja as CFO
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Tesla names Indian-origin executive Vaibhav Taneja as CFO

Tesla names Indian-origin executive Vaibhav Taneja as CFO

He succeeds Zachary Kirkhorn, who stepped down from the post after working for the electric vehicle maker for 13 years


Tesla has a long history of promoting talent from within. Outside hires don’t last for very long in the carmaker’s scrappy, hard-charging culture, and it takes a certain stamina to work for Elon Musk.

Tesla’s new chief financial officer, Vaibhav Taneja, already has a hefty gig serving as the company’s chief accounting officer. Tesla watchers were surprised to hear Monday that he was replacing Zach Kirkhorn, a 13-year Tesla veteran who abruptly stepped down from the CFO post.

While Kirkhorn has been a calm, steady presence and regularly spoke at length with investors, even playing the role of Musk’s surrogate the time he skipped Tesla’s earnings presentation, Taneja is less well-known. He has spoken briefly on just one Tesla earnings call, back in early 2019.

Taneja, 45, didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The change comes at a critical time for Tesla. The company is building a new factory in Mexico and preparing to bring its Cybertruck pickup to the market as it fends off rivals in the increasingly crowded EV market.

Tesla has been cutting prices across its lineup to maintain its position atop the electric-car industry, and profitability has taken a hit.

Vaibhav Taneja’s path to the executive lineup

Taneja started his career in New Delhi. He graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Delhi University, according to his LinkedIn profile. He then spent almost 17 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Tesla’s longtime accounting firm.

Image credit: LinkedIn

He joined SolarCity in 2016 and became corporate controller. Tesla soon thereafter acquired the solar panel installer. The automaker’s shareholders later sued Musk and Tesla’s board, accusing them of hiding SolarCity’s financial woes.

Taneja became Tesla’s corporate controller in May 2018 and was named chief accounting officer in March 2019. Vaibhav Taneja’s predecessor, Dave Morton, had been hired away from Seagate Technology but resigned after less than a month.

Taneja owned about 105,000 shares of the company as of July 7, a stake that is currently valued at about $26m, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Musk, the richest person in the world, oversees six companies: Tesla, SpaceX, X (formerly known as Twitter), Boring, Neuralink, and xAI, his most recent venture. Musk’s many interests and the competing demands for his time have long raised concerns about whether Tesla is too dependent on a single individual.

The EV maker has just four executive officers: Musk, Drew Baglino, the senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering; Tom Zhu, senior vice president of automotive; and now Taneja.

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