New Tesla CFO Will Make $500,000 Annually, Get $15 Million New Hire Equity Grant

8 months ago by Eric Loveday 38

Tesla Emblem On Model S

Following the unexpected departure of Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler, some of the media began to make wild claims regarding Tesla’s ability to retain talent and there was even some speculation that Wheeler’s departure didn’t quite add up.

Well, Tesla responded to the ability-to-retain-talent claims and even released a rather lengthy announcement on Wheeler’s departure, as well as Deepak Ahuja’s return to Tesla.

Here’s the note on Wheeler departing and Ahuja coming back to Tesla:

Returning CFO Deepak Ahuja

CFO Jason Wheeler to Depart in April to Pursue Opportunities in Public Policy

Deepak Ahuja Will Return as CFO

Tesla today announced that CFO Jason Wheeler has decided to leave the company in April to pursue opportunities in public policy. Jason will be replaced by Deepak Ahuja, who was Tesla’s first CFO and worked for the company for more than seven years before stepping away in 2015. Deepak will formally take over as CFO in early March, with Jason remaining at Tesla through early April to ensure a smooth transition.

With his many years of experience at a high-volume automaker like Ford and his deep institutional knowledge of Tesla, Deepak will help Tesla continue to scale as it prepares to launch Model 3.

Jason made a number of significant contributions at Tesla, including leading the company to a profitable third quarter last year, significantly improving the company’s cash position, helping to lead the acquisition of SolarCity, and preparing Tesla to scale for the launch of Model 3.

“Jason has been a key member of Tesla’s leadership team, and he has played an important role in further improving the company’s financial position,” said Tesla co-founder and CEO, Elon Musk. “I want to thank Jason and wish him success as he moves into public policy. Looking ahead, we’re pleased to have Deepak join us again to ensure a seamless transition for Tesla.”

“It’s been an honor to work for such an incredible company,” Wheeler said. “After spending the last 15 years helping to make information accessible to everyone and to advance sustainable energy, I’m looking forward to continuing to champion these causes and others from a public policy perspective.“

“It is a very important time in the history of Tesla, and I’m excited to be back,” Ahuja said. “This is a unique opportunity to rejoin the talented and driven team at Tesla. Every day they are working passionately to significantly improve the long-term future of humanity.”

There was a brief put out too. It claims that Tesla’s CFO Deepak Ahuja “will have annual base salary of $500,000 and will receive a $15 million new hire equity grant.” That’s reason enough for his return we guess.

Here’s the other note from Tesla. The one on retaining talent:

“Tesla’s ability to attract and retain talent has been one of our biggest assets. In 2016, the attrition rate across Tesla was below industry average for technology companies. The length of tenure on the senior leadership team has been especially strong. Of Tesla’s most senior executives, 75% have more than 3 years of tenure, 60% have more than 6 years of tenure, and 20% have more than a decade of tenure. Of everyone who has had a leadership position at Tesla over our 14-year existence, nearly 60% are still with the company today. In a number of cases, including most recently with our CFO, Deepak Ahuja, and another one of our most senior leaders, Jerome Guillen, they left Tesla to take a break only to return a short time later. They came back because they deeply love the company. Furthermore, our senior leadership team continues to expand with new hires, which include over the past couple of years senior executives to lead manufacturing, global sales and service, and Autopilot, just to name a few.

At a company with 30,000 people, particularly one like Tesla where people work especially hard to achieve what is a very challenging mission, there will inevitably be some amount of turnover. However, the relative lack of turnover at Tesla has been one of the biggest reasons for the company’s success. The company has nearly 2,000 employees at the manager level and above, and selectively cherry-picking the few who choose to leave, many of whom had long tenures of their own at the company, is neither fair nor instructive.”

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38 responses to "New Tesla CFO Will Make $500,000 Annually, Get $15 Million New Hire Equity Grant"

  1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    I always regard with a great deal of skepticism, speculation that so-and-so leaving such-and-such company is a sign of something wrong. People change jobs all the time, for very many reasons, many of which are entirely personal and have nothing to do with the company.

    If this sort of cabbage is, or has been. especially pronounced in the case of Tesla’s recent CFO leaving, then I would guess most of that speculation is driven, or at least influenced by, attempts to manipulate the price of Tesla’s highly volatile stock.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think the performance of Tesla Inc., the company, should be judged for itself, based on the performance of the company… and not by the daily, weekly, or monthly rise and fall of Tesla’s stock price.

    1. Four Electrics says:

      The reason these events are given such weight is that executives, as insiders, are privy to information that the public is not: especially negative information, which tends to be well hidden.

      The fact that the prior CFO left without a concrete gig, giving only vague hand wavy goals, is another red flag.

      He could have been fired, or didn’t get along with Musk, or felt uneasy about the company, or, yes, had a burning desire to do something else in the public space, only a year and five months since he started at Tesla. Personally I suspect there is more to the story than is in the press release.

      1. Get Real says:

        And since you are a serial anti-Tesla shill, shorter, or hater here your reasons for your conspiracy theory (of which you offer no evidence like a Trump) is undoubtedly to continue your pattern of spreading FUD on all things Tesla.

        1. SJC says:

          Wow..lots of hate in that statement. Let’s see where the facts go and not sling mud nor insults.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Fear, uncertainty and doubt (often shortened to FUD) is a disinformation strategy used in sales, marketing, public relations, talk radio, politics, religious organizations, and propaganda. FUD is generally a strategy to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information and a manifestation of the appeal to fear.

            That’s what “Four Electric” (or 4E) posts about EVs, and especially about Tesla Inc. His posts are a disinformation strategy. They are not honest, not balanced, and not fact-based.

            If you are an EV advocate, then 4E is not your friend. Make no mistake: He is the enemy.

            1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

              And this, gentle readers, is what’s known as a “concern troll” post. Pushmi-Pullyu and Get Real are two of the biggest Tesla concern trolls that the internet has ever seen. They are pretending to be oh-so-concerned that someone who makes a negative or unflattering comment about Tesla is actually spreading FUD or is a paid shill, and they personally attack the commentor instead of addressing the often pertinent and valid points made by the commentor in his post.

              concern troll
              “A person who posts on a blog thread, in the guise of “concern,” to disrupt dialogue or undermine morale by pointing out that posters and/or the site may be getting themselves in trouble, usually with an authority or power. They point out problems that don’t really exist. The intent is to derail, stifle, control, the dialogue. It is viewed as insincere and condescending.”
              http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=concern+troll

              1. Get Real says:

                Get Real sven, as a charter member of the anti-Tesla FUDSTER club well known for your frequent double-digit carpet-bombing posts here against Tesla or shilling for fool cell cars your fake concern is, well, FAKE!

                Pointing out that 4E has a wild-assed conspiracy theory and has absolutely NO evidence along with his anti-Tesla FUDing here is all I did.

                Well, I did mention that he paralleled your hero the Trumpster’s tendencies with this probably brought you in.

              2. Concerned about trolls says:

                Ever considered getting a life?

                Just sayin….

                1. Get Real says:

                  Just saying, another troll posting under a new username because they are to cowardly to post under theiron existing username.

                  1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

                    You silly goose. I beleive he was speaking to me, but you’re right about the new username part. “Concerned About Trolls” is actually a fanboi of Pu-Pu (a fanboi of a fanboi) who used to post under the lame screen name “Allies of Pushmi-Pullyu,” and declared the following:

                    “Allies of Pushmi-Pullyu”
                    “July 4, 2016 at 7:06 am”
                    “To be honest, I really like Pushmi-Pullyu. I am now his official ally in the quest for factual EV-news and we need more defenders of Tesla. I thought the readers of this site were in favor of all EVs.”
                    http://insideevs.com/tesla-q2-deliveries-miss-target-by-15-at-14370-in-transit-evs-to-blame/#comment-906560

                    Concerned About Trolls, perhaps you should follow your own advice and consider getting a life.

                    Just sayin’. . .

      2. Someone out there says:

        You have a point. My guess is that he didn’t get along with Musk and especially Musk’s grand visions. The pressure on a CFO in a company that is burning money like crazy must be quite significant and if you have trouble saying no to the CEO then maybe it’s better to leave.

  2. Euro point of View says:

    The special personnality of Musk lets small room for real talents next to him .

    1. CLIVE says:

      And then?

    2. Knut Erik Ballestad says:

      Maybe you should at least read Musk’s biograpy before you make such statements?
      – the impression I got from the book is that he is a person that attracts talent and hard-working employees.

      What seems to be really hard around Mr Musk rather seems like not working up towards your potential.

  3. Independent Observer says:

    This is why the UAW will be joining Tesla shortly. $15 Million for multimillionaire? Just pay the guy $500K. Use the $15MM for compensating the hourly workforce that is vital for the companies future.

    1. CLIVE says:

      Sure destroy that factory just like they did once before.

      Good Lord !!

    2. Dav8or says:

      You do realize companies are free in this (supposedly) free country to pay whatever they want to their employees and the employees are free to accept, or reject the pay, right?? Of course good little social engineers in various governments try to tinker with that, so who knows what a “free country” means anymore? More and more as reams of new regulations, mandates and laws are written, it’s not very free.

      1. Nick says:

        Yea! Race to the bottom!

      2. SparkEV says:

        Companies are not allowed to offer any wage, people are not allowed to accept any wage. It has to be above minimum wage. There’s no way I’m paying someone to clip my lawn at $8/hr, let alone $15/hr.

        As for regulations, it’s been piling on since the founding of the country, and highly accelerated lately. Every country (like Romans) failed because of too many regulations choking the system; outer fringes, blah blah, but the underlying cause is the confusion of too many rules. Since there is no mechanism for US to limit regulations, it’s not a matter of if, but when US will fail.

      3. EVA-01 says:

        You are absolutely right. It is your business that you worked hard for and you pay your employees whatever you both agree upon. If they feel slighted, they come to you to negotiate for a raise.

        If I feel that you have been a spectacular​ asset to the company, I will happily give you a raise. Now if I am a horrible employer I wouldn’t give out raises to hardworking people but workers have the right to leave. If the majority of your workforce leaves, your company will not function so you either sink with the ship or swallow your pride and rehire the workers with higher pay.

        This what it means to be free market.

        1. Mister G says:

          America is not a free market lol stop believing the propaganda…you want free market go to a failed state…Somalia comes to mind lol

    3. Someone out there says:

      To get the people you want you need to pony up. It’s hard to find good people for key positions, they are well sought after and therefore compensated accordingly.

  4. Mike I. says:

    The Equity Grant is probably not a lump of options immediately available. Stock based compensation typically vests over time. The surprising thing is that they gave it a dollar value instead of just the number of shares.

    1. realistic says:

      Mike, they have to value it in some way (typically the Black-Scholes method) because stock awards must be expensed. One way or another the $ value was going to find its way public; might as well be up front.

    2. Nix says:

      Musk’s shares are even tied to specific tangible milestones. Like Model S going into production, Model 3 going into production, etc.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I agree, Mike, this looks like a very strange way to describe what is probably just stock options, not actual compensation worth a specific dollar amount.

      I note that there’s no direct quote regarding the “$15 million” claim here. What is the basis for that assertion in the headline of this article? Did it come directly from Tesla Inc., or from a supposedly “reliable source”? Is that just an assumption? Because you know what they say happens when you assume…

      1. EVA-01 says:

        I’ve been noticing for a while that whenever you mention Tesla, you add the incorporated nomenclature at the end of it.

        Why so specific? We all know you’re talking about the company and not the person?

  5. realistic says:

    Really, the only people who get a say in this are the board and the shareholders. If these two groups approved a $2B+ share issuance to buy moribund SCTY then surely this is no problem.

    In all seriousness, I don’t think the Ahuja pay package is such a big deal in the scope of things. I DO think the Wheeler departure is weird, but, again, I’m not a shareholder.

    1. CLIVE says:

      Wheeler made a move for his own reasons.

      1. Dav8or says:

        How do you know that? Do you know he wasn’t booted for a fact?

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Why would you simply assume he was booted, in absence of any direct evidence? As usual with a FUDster like you, every event is to be interpreted in the worst possible way; Tesla is guilty until proven innocent.

          And I’ll echo Nix here: If a current exec leaving is bad, then by the same FUDster “logic” (or lack thereof), then a former exec returning — which is what is happening here — must be twice as good!

          😀 😀 😀

    2. pjwood1 says:

      I just remember the goal Wheeler supposedly was coming into, from his first earnings call. Q1 ’16, I think, was supposed to be profitable/cash positive, and then during the quarter Model 3 orders dashed that idea. Then, SCTY. There may be difference between the CFO best suited to operate an enterprise, and one more suited to building it? What I wonder, anyway.

  6. Reddy says:

    Unfortunately, it’s NEVER a good sign when a CFO leaves, voluntarily or not. I’m not long or short Tesla, I just have some experience at startups. Be careful.

    1. Nix says:

      So you say it is bad when a CFO leaves. Then what does it mean when a CFO returns? Or did you not read the story?

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      And what happened last time Tesla got a new CFO? Was that a bad thing?

      I don’t have any inside knowledge, any more than you do, but certainly there were a lot of comments from those who follow the Tesla “story” that the then-new CFO seemed to be making some important changes which were good for Tesla’s bottom line.

      Honestly, I find it downright weird that so many people simply assume that a change in leadership is automatically bad. No, a change is just that: A change. Could be good, could be bad. Wouldn’t it be better to wait and see what happens?

      You know what they say about making assumptions. Well in this case, it’s true!

  7. Thomas says:

    Anyway…the new CFO will make Tesla also not profitable….

    1. CLIVE says:

      Because you make up baseless stories?

      Sure sure sure.

      1. Thomas says:

        No. Because I read the cash flow statements and earnings report.