Tesla’s accounting and HR heads resign on the same day

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Tesla’s chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, has resigned after less than a month on the job, the company announced in a regulatory filing today. Morton said in a statement that “the level of public attention placed on the company, as well as the pace within the company, have exceeded my expectations.”

Shortly after the announcement of Morton’s departure, Gabrielle Toledano, Tesla’s head of HR, told Bloomberg she has decided not to come back to the company after being on a leave of absence. She’s the second Tesla executive to not return from a leave of absence this summer. Doug Field, who ran the company’s vehicle programs, stepped down in July after having gone on leave in May.

The news of both departures came hours after CEO Elon Musk smoked weed on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Tesla’s stock price dropped as much as 10 percent Friday morning, the biggest hit to the company’s market capitalization in two years.

Morton came from a post as CFO of hard drive company Seagate and was in charge of Tesla’s corporate financial reporting and global accounting, payroll, tax, and trade activities, according to a company press release about his hiring. He says his first day was on August 6th, which was one day before Musk tweeted that he had “funding secured” to be able to take Tesla private — an effort he eventually abandoned a few weeks later. Toledano had been with Tesla since May 2017.

Executive departures are not a new thing for Tesla — Bloomberg reported at the end of August that the company’s head of communications is also on the way out — but Morton’s resignation comes at a particularly precarious financial time for the company. Tesla still hasn’t turned a yearly profit since its founding, and in the last two years, the company has steadily eaten through its cash reserves as it ramped up production of the Model 3 sedan. A number of leading financial firms expect the company will need to raise more money over the next few months in order to keep up with this pace of spending, even if the company is able to turn a profit in the final two quarters of 2018, which Musk said was the goal at the beginning of August.

Tesla is also about to take on a number of projects that will require even more money, like breaking ground on a factory in China, another planned factory in Europe, the Model Y crossover SUV, the second-generation Roadster, and an all-electric big rig truck.

Comments

How I imagine it:

Dave, skilled and knowledgeable, sits down, gets access to all account information, gets out a calculator throws some numbers together…

"Welp, this is hopeless"

He picks up his phone, calls up the CFO and says ‘Hey, I’m giving my four weeks, thanks!’

Or like that sillicon valley episode where the guy hired to actually run Hooli XYZ reports to the job and runs out the door instantaneously.

Imagine looking over the numbers and being concerned about getting paid.

Literally Tesla suppliers right now per WSJ.

Made me think of Dave. Except Kevin Kline totally conquered that impossible budget.

This and Musk’s questionable behavior have tanked the stock more than 30% since his funding secured tweet. One wonders if Musk actually knows what he’s doing.

What, you think he’s purposely driving the stock down to then drop a bombshell and send it soaring again?

So stock price manipulation? That is criminal, "not knowing what you are doing" isn’t.

Well you’d have to prove he knew what he was doing. Otherwise it’s just "erratic behavior."

Ahhh… My whole teenage life. "I didn’t know you couldn’t do that."

Nope. Its clear Musk has no idea what he’s doing, and he’s costing other people a lot of money.

My hope is that the ‘rational’ market is reacting to this news by sending TSLA’s price down.

But my fear is that investors are irrational, and are placing drastically more influence on the personal life of the CEO and his shenanigans. The continual treadmill of highly positioned financial officers from Tesla is really bad news. These are the people with the inside information, with the incentive to stick with the company (in the form of stock options).

Yup. "Rational stock market" is a oxymoron.

If you don’t
clean the toilet, eventuallyy the stink gets to you.

con man

Musk needs some help, that dude is working himself into oblivion. Weren’t they supposed to be hiring some executives to take over some of his responsibilities and take a load off his shoulders?

I think that is what everyone around him (the board etc.) is suggesting, however Elon doesn’t seem to have bought into it…at least so far.

Wow… This secret media conspiracy to paint Tesla in a bad light is really getting serious. It’s almost as if the company is actually screwing up badly. /s

Ench, conspiracy?!
The accounting guy gave up $10M when he quit. No one! would do that unless there was something fishy going on inside the company.

"funding not secured"

-Dave

So was that a nicer way of saying we don’t like working for pothead?

Electric cars are the necessary future, and Tesla has done some good work in that regard.
I’ve been reading some crazy things about Elon Musk: long working hours, firing a long time and reliable personal assistant, dating celebrities…
He also appears to have lots of fans.

It seems that Musk may be burned out, and the fame & the yes men/women may have gone to his head. I hope he takes a needed break and re-value the lifestyle and people who helped him reach his zenith, rather than stick with less constructive patterns that may lead to a downfall.

EV are not the necessary future – they are one possible future. If Biofuel suddenly had a breakthrough (which is not unlikely), it could well be that we all drive ICE cars for some time.
EV is a good choice for short range traffic and/or if the problems that exist with batteries (scarcity of some of the ressources, environmental impact when producing those batteries etc.).
Producing the power for EVs will be an issue (and it will have to be renewable – otherwise you might as well just burn gas).
There are so many issues with EV that I am not that optimistic about its future. Looking at all the pure EVs around you can say that those are rich mans toys. They are built for people that can afford to have several cars and use the EV only in short range or because they don´t rely on it 100%.
It will take decades to have an EV that will fit low income families, that often live in places wich lack public transport and therefore rely on a car.

The Verge, your article misses the most important part of the story. The accounting guy had a 350k salary and $10M stock options which would vest in 4 years!
How bad must things be at Tesla for him to give up $10M?!?!

That’s why the stock price dropped, not because of the HR guy, not because of the weed, because the Chief Accountant left after just one month and gave up a fortune in doing so. There’s no positive way to spin this.

Yep, but thats not the style TV craves into….too much information.

The HR person leaving as well has impact. That signals something may be going on internally across the whole company.

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