Zach Kirkhorn, chief financial officer of Tesla and long-time Elon Musk ally, has formally resigned from his position, ending a 13-year tenure at the electric vehicle brand.
In a Linkedin post published on August 7, Kirkhorn called his time at the company “a special experience” and offered praise for his colleagues, writing: “I want to thank the talented, passionate, and hard-working employees at Tesla, who have accomplished things many thought not possible.” The executive also thanked Musk “for his leadership and optimism, which has inspired so many people.” Chief accounting officer Vaibhav Taneja will take over from Kirkhorn, who is remaining on staff until the end of this year, to help his replacement transition into the role. During his time at the electric vehicle brand, the executive helped drive historic success and created new value for investors and shareholders alike.
Nevertheless, Tesla has long found it difficult to keep its CFO seat occupied for extended periods. Kirkhorn, who had been with the company since 2010, took control of its financial operations four years ago when he replaced Deepak Ahuja. Ahuja, who had already left the electric vehicle brand’s executive team once before, had only just replaced the previous CFO, Jason Wheeler, in 2017. During its coverage of Kirkhorn’s appointment in 2019, CNBC reported that Musk had already dismissed recommendations from his new financial chief once before, ignoring his suggestions on how to spend $7 million the CEO wanted to invest in a self-driving vehicle project. The media platform also noted that Tesla’s financial department at the time changed members frequently, with one former chief accounting officer serving for less than a month.
Kirkhorn’s departure comes during a challenging time for the electric vehicle maker. The company now faces competition in its segment, alongside economic pressures resulting from the COVID pandemic. A surplus of new car inventory and stagnating demand has led it to lower prices across its EV lineup throughout the year, a strategy that has successfully increased sales, albeit at the cost of profit margins. CEO Musk, who has long operated as the face of the brand, is facing intense criticism stemming from his purchase of and subsequent leadership at X, formerly known as Twitter. Given these and other difficulties, Tesla is likely to prioritize achieving a sense of financial equilibrium. Whether CFO Taneja can provide that stability will be a key question for investors, buyers and shareholders in the coming months.