SAN FRANCISCO — Friday begins a new age for Tesla Inc.'s board and Elon Musk's Twitter feed.
The company added Larry Ellison and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson to its board of directors, fulfilling the terms of the settlement reached with U.S. securities regulators over its CEO’s problematic posts about taking the company private.
Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle Corp., and Wilson-Thompson, the global chief human resources officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., join a board the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered to step up its governance and oversight measures after Musk claimed in August to have had the funding and investor support for a buyout.
The carmaker already complied with the SEC's order to name a new chairman by tapping existing director Robyn Denholm to take over from Musk in November.
The new additions to the board put a bookend on a months-long distraction that at one point looked like it may cost Musk his future with the company. While reining him in may prove challenging, they’ll help steer a carmaker that’s made significant strides in profitably making and delivering electric vehicles.
Tesla shares were up more than 4 percent to $239.29 as of 12:02 p.m. Friday. The stock was up 1.5 percent this year through the close Thursday.
In Ellison, Musk has added another larger-than-life technology titan lauded for his business accomplishments but not without his own corporate-governance controversies. The 74-year-old billionaire came under attack from Oracle shareholders for excessive pay packages while running the company. Ellison also publicly defended Musk after his tweets about taking Tesla private landed him in hot water with the SEC, a point that raised eyebrows with corporate-governance experts.
“His vocal support for Musk doesn’t suggest the kind of objectivity coming in that I think people had hoped for,” said Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. “The SEC’s point was to to bring in two people who were neither supporters nor vocal opponents of Tesla.”
Ellison went off-script during an Oracle meeting with analysts in October to announce that he had been building a personal stake in Tesla and that it was his second-largest holding. He criticized how the media had covered Musk, whom he called a close friend.
“This guy is landing rockets,” Ellison said in October of Musk, who also runs Space Exploration Technologies Corp. “You know, he’s landing rockets on robot drone rafts in the ocean. And you’re saying he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Well, who else is landing rockets? You ever land a rocket on a robot drone? Who are you?”
Tesla said in its statement announcing Ellison would be joining the board that he purchased 3 million shares of the electric-car maker earlier this year.
Wedbush Securities’ Daniel Ives called the choice of Ellison “a home run" and said he could “help channel Musk’s energy and passion into positives” and steer him away from the cloud created by his “going private tweetstorm,” according to a research note published Friday.
Tesla also said it is setting up a committee on the board to oversee compliance with the SEC agreement regarding public disclosures and public statements and review potential conflicts of interest, employment and compensation disputes, according to a regulatory filing Friday.
The automaker’s board now has 11 members, including three women. This fall, California became the first U.S. state to mandate that publicly traded companies have women on their boards. Those with at least seven directors need to have at least three women by 2021.