Tesla names two independent board members after Musk tweet row

Jeannie Matthews
December 31, 2018

The electric auto company tapped Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Walgreens Boots Alliance Executive Vice President Kathleen Wilson-Thompson for its board of directors, an element of the September agreement between Musk and the US Securities and Exchange Commission that resolved charges that Musk defrauded investors by claiming on Twitter that he had secured funding to take Tesla private.

Still, in an SEC filing today, Tesla said that it, "intends to certify to the Commission that it and Elon have timely completed each of their respective actions required pursuant to the Settlement".

Elon Musk remains as chief executive although he agreed with the SEC in October he would step down as chairman.

The SEC accused Musk of committing securities fraud, saying that the funding had not been secured and that he had duped investors who drove shares of Tesla up by 11 per cent on the day of the tweet. Ellison was also an early investor in Theranos-and notably quiet during the company's fall from grace. That stake would be worth close to $1 billion at Friday's opening price.

"You are telling me he is an idiot".

"I want to be clear".

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The SEC demanded more oversight of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, pictured a news conference in Tokyo September 8, 2014, after he got into hot water for announcing on Twitter that he would take the company private.

According to Tesla, both Ellison, listed by Forbes magazine as the fifth wealthiest person in the USA, and Wilson-Thompson were added to the board, effective Thursday.

"In conducting a widespread search over the last few months, we sought to add independent directors with skills that would complement the current board 's experience", Tesla said in a press release. "In Larry and Kathleen, we have added a preeminent entrepreneur and a human resources leader, both of whom have a passion for sustainable energy", Tesla's existing directors said in a statement. The agency said this and other claims the CEO made on August 7 were false and misleading and impacted Tesla's stock. In addition to Denholm, the company's board includes Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and chief executive of Johnson Publishing Co. Denholm was seen as an experienced though predictable pick at the time, but investors and analysts had been hoping for a truly independent, outside chairperson to fully check Musk. Before he joined the company, he represented Musk through two divorces. He also sent cryptic posts about deleting his titles at Tesla and obliquely needled the agency in the process. Jurvetson has disputed the allegations.

Tesla further consented to the appointment of an independent chairman, two independent directors and a board committee to control Musk's communications.

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, an executive vice president at Walgreens Boots Alliance, join the board as independent directors, effective immediately. A previous version of this story misstated when the appointments would be finalized.

Tesla's shares closed up 5.6% at $333.87 on Friday.

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