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.”