Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk stands on the podium as he attends a forum on startups in Hong Kong, China.
Bobby Yip | Reuters
Elon Musk has run two ambitious tech companies at the same time ever since he became chairman and later CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla while also leading SpaceX, his re-usable rocket and satellite internet business.
He went on to launch a computer-brain interface startup, Neuralink, and a drilling business called Boring Co. in 2017, and is in the midst of a contentious lawsuit with Twitter over a buyout gone awry.
With his attention divided, Musk relies on a large team of deputies — more than 20 people today — to keep business rolling at Tesla. His cast of direct reports shifts often with strategic or organizational changes, occasional “spot firings” by the mercurial CEO, and resignations.
Here are the direct reports we know about as of Sept. 2022. The data was gathered from interviews with current and recent Tesla employees, LinkedIn profiles, internal and public records from Tesla, and may not include all of the people who report to him.
Headcount numbers are approximate and refer to the number of people each of Musk’s direct reports was managing as of early September.
About 22% of the CEO’s direct reports are now based in Texas, around half are still based in California, and more than 90% are men.
Musk will need to lean on these deputies as Tesla works to bring its new factories in Gruenheide, Germany, and Austin, Texas to full production, and to demonstrate progress on his many other goals.
Musk has told shareholders and fans that Tesla will “solve Full Self-Driving” this year, improve vehicle service and repairs, and start deliveries of the experimental Cybertruck pickup by mid-year 2023. Musk also said that Tesla would shore up its battery manufacturing capabilities to be able to produce 100 gigawatt-hours worth of 4680 batteries on its own this year, enough to power more than a million of its cars.
Musk’s direct reports have also recently needed to navigate through headcount reductions amid uncertain economic times.
The CEO abruptly announced a steep cut to the Tesla workforce at the end of May during a challenging second quarter, marked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Covid outbreaks in China.
In June, Tesla closed an entire Autopilot office in San Mateo, and dismissed at least some employees who were previously authorized for remote work but who did not agree to an order by Musk to work at a Tesla office at least 40 hours per week. Musk cited a “super bad feeling” about the economy in an e-mail to Tesla staff in June.
Tesla’s former senior director of AI, Andrej Karpathy, was not among those who Musk laid off or fired, however — he announced his resignation from the company formally in July. Autopilot leader Ashok Elluswamy is reporting directly to Musk for the time being.
Other Musk direct reports who parted ways with Tesla in 2022 have included former Nevada Gigafactory VP Chris Lister, as CNBC previously reported, and Jean Frazier, who was Tesla’s senior director of employee relations, according to internal documents viewed by CNBC.
David Searle, who previously headed up Tesla’s legal department, is still employed there, records indicate. Insiders said they expect Searle to leave in coming months as he previously managed more than a dozen employees, and now has only one direct report listed on internal org charts.
According to public and internal records, Senior Director of Legal Dinna Eskin is now acting as the manager of Tesla’s legal department and is effectively the company’s general counsel. Tesla hasn’t employed a person with the title of general counsel officially since late 2019.