Tesla‘s latest conference call brings a bit of breaking news that J. B. Straubel is leaving his Chief Technology Officer (CTO) position after over 14 years since May 2005. Straubel joined Tesla in March 2004 and is one of the co-founders of the company (Elon Musk joined a month later).
Because J. B. Straubel was considered the second most important person at the company with hands on all technical projects (especially batteries), the move is a huge change for Tesla.
Fortunately, J. B. Straubel is “not disappearing” and he will stay close to the company as Senior Advisor.
The new CTO will be Drew Baglino (Tesla’s vice president of technology), introduced in June at the shareholders meeting, who for years was working with J. B. Straubel.
“I am not disappearing. I just want to make sure people understand it’s not some lack of confidence in the company or the team or anything like that. I love the team and I love the company and I always will. Drew and I have worked closely together for many many years, and I have total confidence in Drew. I am not going anywhere if there’s anything I need to do that is helpful to Drew or the whole team.”
The step down of the CTO is not totally surprising as J.B. Straubel was rarely seen at conferences recently.
According to Bloomberg, Straubel recently (since November 2018) sold shares for some $30 million, which could be related to his recycling startup Redwood Materials (2017). Together with his wife, he also started the Straubel Foundation (2015) to support sustainability, science and education.
from left: Elon Musk, J. B. Straubel, Drew Baglino at Tesla Annual Shareholders Meeting in June 2019