A Tesla co-founder who has been an executive longer than Elon Musk is leaving his post at the electric-car maker after netting about $30.1 million from share sales in less than nine months.
Chief Technology Officer J.B. Straubel is stepping down from the role, though he will remain an adviser, CEO Elon Musk said on Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call. The combination of a worse-than-expected loss and another major management change sent the stock plunging 11 percent in late trading.
Shares of Tesla dropped 14 percent to close Thursday's trading at $228.82.
Straubel, 43, has offloaded Tesla shares eight times since November. Before June, when he reaped about $3.3 million through an outright sale, the transactions were all option exercises. Tesla representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tesla was on the verge of beginning to take questions on the earnings call before Musk, 48, cut in to announce Straubel’s move. He will be replaced by Drew Baglino, Tesla’s vice president of technology.
“I am not disappearing,” Straubel said. “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.”
Straubel joined Tesla in March 2004, one month before Musk, 48, became a member of the board. The other three founders have left the company. Straubel initially served as principle engineer of drive systems and in May 2005 became head of technology.
Straubel and his wife, Boryana, co-founded the Straubel Foundation in 2015, which focuses on global sustainability, science and education. Straubel also founded Redwood Materials, a recycling engineering company, in 2017.
Tesla has disclosed in regulatory filings that it is “highly dependent on the services of” Musk and Straubel. Since the beginning of this year, the company has lost its chief financial officer, general counsel and vice president of production, among other senior executives.
“It’s a significant transition for Tesla, as Straubel has been one of the most important members of Tesla management,” Dan Levy, an analyst at Credit Suisse, wrote in a note to clients.