A deep dive into Tesla's Board of Directors
And what ChatGPT has to say ...
In less than four months Tesla will hold its 2023 shareholder meeting and we shareholders will be asked to cast our votes for four of the eight current members of the Board of Directors, who are up for reelection this year. You can do it like me, and just go by emotions to be convinced of their excellence: Watch Robyn Denholm never give Becky Quick on CNBC what the journalist was after, listen to Ira Ehrenpreis discuss with JB Straubel in 2013 Tesla’s story at Stanford’s GCEP Symposium, discover James Murdoch’s marshmallow test to detect willpower, or go straight to Joe Gebbia’s Instagram account.
I promised myself I would write an un-biased, detailed analysis of Tesla’s Board (hoping you might bookmark it for future reference), yet I gladly admit that I was overwhelmed with fondness for this talented and accomplished group. Then, I pulled myself together to see whether I would come to the same result by being purely rational, to be able to answer the question I had been asking myself these past months: “Is this the best Board possible for Tesla and its shareholders?”
So first, the basics: FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, explains in this article very eloquently how a Board of Directors operates. The key phrases are:
The primary job of a public company’s board of directors is to look out for the shareholders’ interests. In fact, directors are legally required to put shareholders’ interests ahead of their own. The board plays a supervisory role, overseeing corporate activities and assessing performance. Directors are responsible for hiring and firing top managers, and for setting their compensation.…
Directors weigh in on such matters as strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, share repurchase programs, declaring dividends and nominating future board members.… Boards are organized around committees that focus on special tasks. For instance, the audit committee works with a company’s auditors, while the compensation committee determines executive pay.
Inside directors are company executives, while outside directors are non-employees. … On top of being an outsider, he or she must have “no material ties” to the company. For instance, a close relative of a high-ranking executive, or an individual with substantial financial dealings with a company, would be seen as having “material ties.”
Once a year, during proxy season, shareholders have an opportunity to vote on at least some members of the board of a public company.
You will find detailed analysis of each of the current eight members of Tesla’s Board of Directors in the lower section of this blog post, including what ChatGPT had to say about each of them, their different oversight roles, recognitions, career paths and social media links.
Of the eight Board Members, six are independent directors, while Elon and Kimbal Musk are not considered independent directors. Only the independent directors participate in the four governance committees and the guidelines for each committee can be found both on Tesla’s website and on page 14 of the Impact Report.
All eight Board Members are very accomplished professionals and possess a compelling mix of complementary strengths. It is striking how very few of them (to not say “mostly Elon”) intervene on behalf of Tesla in the public sphere, very few have active Twitter accounts, and appearances on Finance TV are extremely rare. With James Murdoch on the Board, Tesla has an inside track on all things media. Elon has witnessed first hand for decades how media operates. Tesla’s communication has been designed to be Elon-centered, and only he will decide if that ever changes. Let me state it more clearly: Altering Tesla’s attitude towards communication is not related to a (possible future) Board Member’s opinion, but to the fundamental perspective on the topic.
In the same manner, the demand for retail investor representation on the Board seems inappropriate. Any Board of Directors’ main objective is to look out for the interest of all shareholders, including the retail investors. So during times of noise when one wonders whether the CEO is devoting enough energy to the company, please remember, just because you don’t hear about it, it does not mean it does not happen.
Tesla compares favorably to other Mega Cap companies in a Harvard study from Oct 2021. The results show that Tesla has a younger set of Directors, less turnover over a five-year span, Directors who stay for an appropriate number of years and the average number of committees.
So, in May 2023, the following four Board Members are up for reelection:
Robyn Denholm, Independent Director and Chair of the Board
Elon MUSK, CEO and Technoking
Hiro MIZUNO, Independent Director and
Joe GEBBIA, Independent Director
Both my emotional and my rational analysis come to the same conclusion: Tesla has a highly qualified Board of Directors.
The only two vulnerabilities of the Board I can currently identify are
the material ties of brothers Elon and Kimbal Musk, and
the steady sale of Tesla stock by Chair Robyn Denholm, keeping her stake in the company at a small 15,000 shares. While these sales are pre-planned 10B5-1 sales and appear to be a strategy to avoid any claims of interest ties to the company’s stock price, they could raise eyebrows with regards to her confidence in the company. This chart lists the SEC reported transactions of Tesla shares by Robyn Denholm:
My personal assumptions for changes in the near future of Tesla’s Board of Directors include:
Elon will take back the Chairman position. His SEC 3-year ban ended in 2021. Robyn Denholm’s reelection occurred in 2020 for a three-year term. The time has come.
Ira Ehrenpreis will continue to be the pillar of the Board that Elon can count on. As an early investor in Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company, Ira has the vision and loyalty to afford Elon the space to do what Elon does best: Motivate the troops to keep everyone on their toes, all while engineering and manufacturing the best products in the world.
Hiro Mizuno will be reelected with the promise to step up the defense of Tesla’s ESG accomplishments, for the world to better understand. His role is important at a moment where ESG is moving towards becoming the standard in worldwide financial reporting, and impartiality and suitability are needed more than ever. Tesla’s call for action on ESG matters has been clearly laid out in the Impact Report. Tesla’s own Sustainability Council brings the best information to the Board of Directors (see page 11 of the Impact Report); Hiro Mizuno now is in a position to develop ways to relay this to the decisionmakers in the ESG world. I expect Hiro to expand his responsibilities by being appointed to at least one additional Committee (my best guess is the Nominating & Governance Committee).
Kimbal might want to leave the Board of Directors. His backing and loyalty were vital to Elon and Tesla in the past 18 years. Today’s bright future for the company and the excellent mix of professionals make his membership less necessary, especially as he is not considered an independent director who can serve in any of the Committees.
Joe Gebbia’s appointment to the Board in 2022 was a match made in heaven. His industrial design competence, and proven communication and soft skills were the missing factor in a highly technical and department-driven group. I expect Joe Gebbia to join the Audit Committee upon his election in May.
Any new member of the Board, if necessary, would need to have the following three qualifications to fit into this accomplished group:
Entrepreneurial Vision, Subject Excellence and Judicious Silence.
My preferred candidate then remains JB Straubel. I do not see anyone more suitable on the horizon.
Below you will find detailed information on each Member of Tesla’s current Board of Directors. The first paragraph is ChatGPT’s answer to “Tell me about …” (with some remarkable catches). It follows the member’s position on the Board and Committee assignments, academic background, other similar appointments. Also included are recognitions, resumés, if available the quantities of Tesla stock currently held and links to Social Media accounts.
(Would love for Tesla to use the information below to enhance their IR pages)
Tesla’s Board of Directors (January 2023)
Robyn M. DENHOLM, Chair of the Board, Independent Director
Robyn Denholm is an Australian business executive who is currently the Chair of Tesla, Inc. She joined the company in 2014 and has served as a member of the board of directors. Prior to joining Tesla, Denholm has held various senior executive positions in technology and telecom companies such as Telstra, Juniper Networks and Sun Microsystems. She has also served as an independent director on the boards of various publicly-listed companies, including a number of technology companies. Denholm is an experienced finance professional and has held leadership roles in finance and operations, with a particular focus on technology companies. She has a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Economics from the University of New South Wales.
Born on May 27, 1963 in Milperra, New South Wales, Australia.
Member of the Board of Directors of Tesla since August 2014, replaced Elon Musk as Chair in November 2018
Chair of both Audit and Disclosure Control Committee
Member of both Nominating & Governance Committee and Compensation Committee
Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Sydney
Master’s Degree in Commerce (1999) and Doctor of Business Administration (Honoris Causa) from the University of New South Wales (2019)
Member of the UNSW Business School Advisory Board
Member of the Board of Governors of Amcham (American Chamber of Commerce) Australia
Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia & New Zealand
Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors
Chair of the Tech Council of Australia (since 2021)
Steering Committee Member of the Wall Street Journal CFO Network since its inauguration
Board of Directors of Echelon Corporation (2008)
Institutional Investor’s All-America Executive Team Leadership and Investor Relations Award (2009)
Nomination on the Profiles in Diversity Journal Women Worth Watching list (2010)
Nomination to the list of Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Women of Influence
Bay Area CFO of the Year finalist (2011)
Doctor of Business (Honoris Causa) from UNSW (2019)
Forbes Power Women #64 (2022)
UNSW Business School’s Winner of the Chancellor's Award for Exceptional Achievement (2022)
1984 - 1989 Arthur Andersen & Company, Australia
1989 - 1996 Toyota Motor Corporation, Australia
1996 - 2007 Sun Microsystems Inc
2007 - 2016 Executive VP, CFO and COO at Juniper Networks Inc.
2017 - 2019 CFO, Head of Strategy and COO at Telstra Corp Ltd., Australia
since Jan 2021 Operating Partner at Blackbird Ventures, a venture capital firm, working with the founders of later stage technology companies to help them scale and succeed
In 2022, Robyn Denholm’s family office (Wollemi Capital Group) purchased a 30% stake in the Sydney Kings and Sydney Uni Flames basketball teams.
Currently holds 15,000 Tesla shares.
LinkedIn, Twitter, CNBC Oct 2019
Elon R. MUSK, Technoking & CEO
Elon Musk is a South African-born American businessman, inventor, and engineer. He is the CEO and founder of SpaceX, a company that designs and manufactures spacecraft for private space travel, and the CEO and founder (this is ChatGPT saying it!) of Tesla, a company that designs and manufactures electric vehicles and clean energy storage systems. He is also the CEO and founder of Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces, and The Boring Company, focused on building underground transportation tunnels. Musk is known for his ambitious goals, such as developing a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, and colonizing Mars. He has been recognized for his contributions to the fields of transportation, renewable energy, and technology.
Born on June 28, 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa
Member of the Board of Directors of Tesla since 2004, Chairman of the Board from 2004 - 2018
B.A. in Physics from University of Pennsylvania and B.S. in Business from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (1997)
Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences -Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (2006)
Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year (2007)
George Low Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for “the most outstanding contribution in the field of space transportation in 2007/08”
National Wildlife Federation’s National Conservation Achievement Award (2008)
National Space Society’s Von Braun Trophy 2008/09
Time’s 100 people who most affected the world (2010)
FAI Gold Space Medal (2010)
Esquire magazine “One of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century”
“Living Legend of Aviation” by the Kitty Hawk Foundation (2010)
Forbes list of “America’s 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 and Under” (2011)
Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization (2011)
Royal Aeronautic Society’s Gold Medal (2012)
Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year (2013)
Explorers Club’s “President’s Award for Exploration and Technology” (2014)
Edison Achievement Award (2014)
Honorary Doctorate in Engineering and Technology from Yale (2015)
IEEE Honorary Membership (2015)
Business Insider’s “Top 10 Business Visionaries Creating Value for the World” (2016)
Oslo Business for Peace Award (2017)
#25 on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People (2018)
Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) (2018)
Time 100 Most Influential People in the World (2010, 2013, 2018, 2021)
Member of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn (2019)
Starmus Festival’s Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication (2019)
#1 on Forbes list of the “Most Innovative Leaders of 2019”
Top 100 most influential Africans by New African Magazine (2020)
Axel Springer Award (2020)
Fortune Magazine’s Business Person of the Year 2020
Financial Times Person of the Year 2021
Newsweek’s Hall of Fame (2021)
Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2022
National Academy of Engineering Award (2022)
Order of Merit for Defense by the Brazilian Government (2022)
1995 - 1999 Co-Founder of Zip2 Corporation
1999 - 2000 Co-Founder and CEO of X.com / Paypal
Since May 2002 , Founder, CEO, CTO and Chairman of SpaceX
Since February 2004, early investor in Tesla (founded in 2003)
July 2006 - Nov 2016, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of SolarCity Corp.
2015 - 2018 Founder of OpenAI
Since 2016, Founder of The Boring Company
Since 2016, Co-Founder of Neuralink
April 2021 - June 2022 on Board of Directors of Endeavor Group Holdings Inc
Since October 2022 , Chief Twit (aka Mr. Tweet) at Twitter Inc.
Currently holds 423,622,432 Tesla shares.
Ira Matthew EHRENPREIS, Independent Director
Ira Ehrenpreis, is a chemical engineer, who is known for his work in the field of catalytic processes and renewable energy. He is the founder and CEO of a company called Ehrliche Technologies, which is focused on developing new technologies for the production of sustainable chemicals and fuels. He is also a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, and has published numerous research papers and articles on topics related to catalysis and renewable energy.
Born on Feb 11, 1969 in San Carlos, California, USA
Member of Tesla’s Board of Directors since 2007
Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee
Chair of the Compensation Committee
Ira holds a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude. And a JD/MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford Law School, where he was an Associate Editor of Stanford Law Review.
Chairman of VC Network, the largest and most active venture capital organization in California (since 1997)
Member of the Board, Executive Committee and Annual Meeting Chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (2007 - 2011)
President of the Western Association of Venture Capitalists, the oldest venture capital organization in California (since 2009)
Member of the Advisory Board, External Advisory Council at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (since 2010)
Founder and Chairman of the World Energy Innovation Forum (since 2013)
Chairman of the Silicon Valley Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum (SVIEF) (2014 - 2017)
Member of the Board of Directors at Mapbox (since 2015)
Member of the Precourt Institute Energy Advisory Council at Stanford University (since 2015)
Board Member and Board Observer at Apeel (since 2016)
Member of the Innovation Advisory Board at San Jose Earthquakes Soccer (since 2016)
Board Member at R-Zero (since 2020)
Member of the Board of Directors at Airspace (since 2022)
Served on several industry Boards, including
the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Advisory Committee (ERAC),
the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Advisory Council,
the Clean-Tech Investor Summit (Chairman for 9 years),
the Renewable Energy Finance Forum (REFF) West (Co-Chairman for 10 years),
the Renewable Energy Finance Forum (REFF) Wall Street (Co-Chairman for 5 years),
the Cleantech Venture Network (Past Chairman of Advisory Board),
ACORE (American Council on Renewable Energy) and
the Advisory Board of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE).
“Top 50 Most Influential Men under 45” (2007)
Inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame (2014)
NACD’s (National Association of Corporate Directors) “one of the most influential leaders in the boardroom and corporate governance community” (since 2018)
NVCA Outstanding Service Award (National Venture Capital Association) (since 2018)
Since 2009, Investor in SpaceX
Since 2014, Founder and Managing Partner of DBL Partners (venture capital investments to accelerate innovation with a positive social impact and healthy financial performance, currently managing over $1bn of capital), including investments in The Boring Company and SpaceX
Since 2015, Investor in Planet
Since 2015, Investor in AMS
Since 2015, Investor in The RealReal
Since 2016, Investor in ZOLA Electric
Since 2017, Investor in BrainScope
Since 2017, Investor in Andela
Since 2017, Investor in Farmer’s Business Network Inc.
Since 2019, Investor in Spatial
Currently holds 571,005 Tesla shares (source Gurufocus).
LinkedIn, Twitter, Stanford’s GCEP Symposium 2013, others
Hiromichi MIZUNO, Independent Director
Hiro Mizuno is a Japanese businessman and investment professional, who is known for his work in the field of sustainable investing. He is the former Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) of Japan, which is one of the largest pension funds in the world. He is also the founding partner of Sparx Asset Management, a Japanese investment management firm that specializes in sustainable investing. Mizuno has been a vocal advocate for the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decision-making and has been awarded several accolades for his contributions to the field of sustainable finance.
Born on September 28, 1965 in Tajimi, Japan
Member of the Tesla Board since 2020
Member of the Audit Committee
BA of Law from Osaka City University and MBA at Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University.
Member of the Mission Committee at Danone S.A. (since 2020)
Special Adviser of Milken Institute
Co-Chair of One Planet Lab TCFD Work Stream
The B Team Leader
Member of the Future of Finance Advisory Council at the CFA Institute
Member of the Advisory Board at Global Business Coalition for Education
Founding Member of the Climate Finance Leadership Initiative
Member of Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations
Member of the Board of the Principles for Responsible Investment Association
Advisor of the CiRA Foundation
Global Future Council Member of the World Economic Forum
United Nations Special Envoy on on Innovative Finance and Sustainable Investments since January 2021
Hiro Mizuno advises Japanese governments in the following capacities:
Special Advisor Green Innovation & Finance to Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
TCFD Summit Ambassador
Executive adviser to Japanese Cabinet on Healthcare and Medical Growth Strategy,
Member of Japanese Government Strategic Funds Integrated Advisory Board,
Member of National Universities Evaluation Committee of Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Japan.
Hiro Mizuno’s involvement with academics included:
Adviser of the Office of the President of the University of Tokyo
Guest Professor of Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine
Executive in Residence and Global Leadership Council member of Said Business School, Oxford University
Executive Fellow of Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Visiting Fellow of Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
Senior Fellow of Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
“Outstanding Individual Contribution” in Responsible Investor, Innovation & Industry Leadership (2017).
1988 - 2003 Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co (Japan & USA)
2003 - 2015 Partner at Coller Capital (London-based private equity firm)
2015 - 2020 Executive Management Director and Chief Investment Officer of the Japan Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the largest asset owner in the world with AUM of $1.5tn
James Rupert Jacob MURDOCH, Independent Director
James Rupert Jacob Murdoch is a British-American businessman and investor. He is the younger son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and former CEO of 21st Century Fox, the company that his father founded. He resigned from the board of News Corp, the parent company of Fox, in July 2020, following differences with the company's editorial direction. He is also a co-founder of Lupa Systems, a private investment company. He has been a director of a number of other companies and organizations, including Sky plc, the British satellite television company and the U.K. newspaper The Times. He has a reputation as a more liberal and progressive figure than his father and has invested in companies focused on renewable energy and clean technology.
Born on December 13, 1972 in Wimbledon, London, GB
Member of Tesla’s Board of Directors since 2017
Member of the Nominating and Governance Committee
Member of the Audit Committee
Member of the Disclosure Controls Committee
Member of the Board of GlaxoSmithKline plc (2009 - 2012)
Member of the Board of Sky plc (2007 - 2012)
Member of the Board of Sotheby’s (2010 - 2012)
Member of the Board of News Corporation (2013 - 2020)
Member of the Board of True[X] Media (2014)
Member of the Board of Twenty-First Century Fox (2017 - 2019)
Studied Film and History at Harvard University, dropped out in 1995 without completing his studies.
1995 - 2000 Co-Founder of Rawkus Records
1996 - 2005 SVP of News America Incorporated
2000 - 2003 CEO of STAR Group Ltd. (Asian subsidiary of News Corp)
2003 - 2007 Director, then CEO of British Sky Broadcasting
2007 - 2012 CEO of News International (Europe, Asia and Middle East)
2012 - 2013 Deputy COO of News America Incorporated
2013 - 2019 Co-COO, then CEO and Chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (21CF)
Since 2019, Founder and CEO of Lupa Systems, a private investment company
Kimbal Musk is a South African-born American entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the younger brother of Elon Musk and also an early investor in several of his brother's companies, including Zip2, PayPal and Tesla. Kimbal Musk is also the founder and CEO of The Kitchen Community, a nonprofit organization that builds learning gardens in schools, and a co-founder of Square, a mobile payments company (LOL, ChatGPT, what are you doing here? It’s Square Root Urban Garden!). He also owns several farm-to-table restaurants and has been an advocate for sustainable food systems and community gardening. He is also a member of the board of directors of Tesla, Inc. He has been actively involved in several other ventures in the field of technology and sustainable food, and is also a member of several boards of directors of non-profit organizations.
Born on September 20, 1972 in Pretoria, South Africa
Member of Tesla’s Board of Directors since 2008
Member of the Board of SpaceX (since 2003)
Member of the Board of Chipotle (2013 - 2019)
Studied Business at Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada (1995) and enrolled into the French Culinary Institute in New York City.
Global Social Entrepreneur by The Schwab Foundation (World Economic Forum’s sister organization) (2018)
1995 - 1999 Co-Founder of Zip2 Corporation
1999 - 2000 Co-Founder of X.com / Paypal
2006 - 2011 CEO of OneRiot (advertising network)
Since 2004, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of The Kitchen Restaurant Group
Since 2011, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Big Green (nonprofit)
Since 2016, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Square Roots Urban Growers
Currently holds 1,533,720 Tesla shares.
Kathleen WILSON-THOMPSON, Independent Director
Kathleen Wilson-Thompson is an American business executive and human resources professional. She is currently the Global Head of Human Resources and Executive Vice President at Walgreens Boots Alliance, one of the largest global pharmacy-led health and wellbeing companies. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of McDonald's Corporation and a member of the Board of Directors of the Executives’ Club of Chicago. She has over 25 years of experience in human resources, including experience in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, talent management, and diversity and inclusion. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Born on September 17, 1957
Member of Tesla’s Board of Directors since 2018
Member of the Nominating and Governance Committee
Member of the Compensation Committee
Member of the Disclosure Controls Committee
Member of the Board at Vulcan Materials Company (2010 - 2019)
Member of the Board at Ashland (2017 - 2020)
Member of the Board at Wolverine World Wide (since 2021)
Member of the Board at McKesson Corporation (since 2022)
Member of the Board of the NAACP Foundation
B.A. in English Literature at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (1979) and both a Doctor of Law - JD at Wayne State University (1982) and a Master’s of Laws LLM, Corporate and Finance Law (1996)
Admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States of America (2017)
Inducted as a fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
Innovative Utility Patent (Hair Removal Apparatus) obtained in 2015
Crain’s Chicago Business Executive Leader (2019)
Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Top 300 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America” (2021)
Savoy Magazine’s “Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America” and “Most Influential Black Corporate Directors” (2021)
1992 - 2010 Corporate Counsel, VP and Chief Counsel, SVP Global Human Resources at Kellogg Company
2010 - 2014 SVP - Chief Human Resources Officer at Walgreens
2014 - 2021 Chief Human Resources Officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance
Present, Founder of KWT LLC, a human capital executive consulting firm
Joe GEBBIA, Independent Director
Joe Gebbia is an American entrepreneur and designer. He is one of the co-founders of Airbnb, a company that provides a platform for people to list and rent short-term lodging in residential properties. Gebbia is responsible for the design and user experience of the Airbnb platform. Prior to starting Airbnb, Gebbia worked as a designer and had several design-related jobs, including working as a designer for a design firm and running his own design studio. He is also an adjunct professor of design at California College of the Arts. He has been recognized for his contributions to the fields of design and technology, and has been awarded several accolades for his work with Airbnb. He has a Bachelor of Industrial Design from Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master in Design from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Born on August 21, 1981 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA
On Tesla’s Board of Directors since September 2022
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2005. Attended business-related classes at Brown University and MIT while attending RISD.
Member of the Board of Trustees at RISD (since 2013)
Member of the Advisory Council for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Member of the Leadership Council of the Malala Fund
Member of the Giving Pledge
2009 BusinessWeek’s Top 20 Best Young Tech Entrepreneur
2010 Inc. Magazine’s Thirty-under-Thirty
2013 Fortune Magazine’s Forty-under-Forty
2021 America’s 50 Biggest Charity Donors
On Fast Company’s Most Creative People
2005 - 2007 Industrial Designer at Chronicle Books, San Francisco
2005 - 2010 Founder & Lead Designer CritBuns
Since 2007, Co-Founder of AirBnB.com (still on the Board of Directors as Advisor) and Chairman of AirBnB.org (nonprofit organization providing emergency housing in times of crisis)
Since 2017, Founder of Neighborhood (modular office furniture)
2020 Executive Producer of documentary films “Universe” and “Refugee Olympic Team at the Olympics”
Since 2022, Co-Founder of Samara (net-zero tiny houses)
Investor in The Helm (Female-founded VC fund) and Nebia (water saving showers)
Strategic Partner in the San Antonio Spurs investor group
As one who attended much of the "funding secured" trial in San Francisco, I was generally impressed with both past and present members of the Tesla board, who comported themselves well regarding their roles...
The lead plaintiff, an options trader, seemed so certain about the veracity of EM's initial tweet (but ignoring the contingencies associated with the word "considering") that he was sure that Elon could get the BOD to "rubber stamp" what he wanted.
But that's not how Tesla's board works! I.e., when the BOD received the $420 offer a full 5 days before the infamous tweet, they had to immediately swing into action independently because Elon was a counterparty at that point, serving as a bidder. There were some fast and furious meetings with Musk not present, nor invited, as they hashed out their fiduciary duty.
For those interested in some insightful public documents (BOD meeting notes are rarely made public except in lawsuits), check out this folder of info admitted into evidence:
My favorite item is the email from investor Ron Baron pleading with Elon to tone it down with the Tweets, and other strategies on how to deal with Tesla's enemies:
Thanks for the research Alexandra. Nice use of chat gpt. I am hoping we get invites to investor day. I haven’t heard any more than you. Brian White and I are planning to go to tx anyway. Should be a fun tourist trip including side trip to Brownsville. Brian planning another unsanctioned group get together around investor day. Should be fun.