Can a Tesla insider help CEO Elon Musk avoid making unforced errors? That’s the question on the minds of corporate governance watchers following last night’s move by Tesla to install Tesla director Robyn Denholm as chair of Tesla’s board. She’ll leave her senior job at Telstra, an Australian telecom firm, in six months in order to work at Tesla full time, the company said. She’s already been on the Tesla board for four years. Her appointment came despite her taking on the Telstra CFO job recently and after an FT report said another Tesla director, James Murdoch, was a “favorite” for the chairman role.
Musk agreed to relinquish his chairmanship but keep the CEO job as part of a deal with U.S. securities regulators to settle a civil securities fraud lawsuit they filed against him earlier this year. But Musk continues to wield immense power over the company through his ownership stake and bonds with existing directors who have long been involved with Tesla and his other big company, SpaceX. Tesla is still looking for two independent directors to fulfill the other part of the settlement deal.