With JB Straubel departure, Tesla is losing much more than just a CTO

JB Straubel, Tesla Motors chief technical officer.

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When Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduced on Wednesday that expertise chief JB Straubel is leaving, any shut follower of the electrical carmaker knew it represented more than the departure of a typical CTO.

In the primary decade of Tesla’s existence, Straubel, who’s among the many group of co-founders, invented or co-created lots of the firm’s signature applied sciences. His title is on a majority of patents that Tesla filed, particularly regarding electrical automobile batteries — security, structure, monitoring and energy administration.

“JB is absolutely brilliant,” mentioned Gene Berdichevsky, worker No. 7 at Tesla, in an e mail. “When I started, we did some of the technical development in his garage! I think there would be no Tesla as it is today without JB.”

Straubel, who’s now 43, lobbied early on for Tesla to pursue a supercharger technique, as a substitute of taking place the highway of battery-swapping. Today, that community of charging stations, accessible for Tesla drivers solely, is a boon for the corporate as a result of it might provide larger service to prospects, whereas drivers of most different electrical automobiles are relegated to compete for time at generic chargers.

Musk delivered the information of Straubel’s exit this week whereas issuing some disappointing monetary outcomes to Wall Street. It was powerful timing for a firm that is struggling to seek out a worthwhile mannequin for constructing and promoting automobiles because it’s investing in self-driving expertise. Tesla recorded a quarterly lack of $408 million, and its automotive margins eroded as prospects confirmed a clear choice for the lower-priced Model three sedans.

Drew Baglino, who Straubel recruited to Tesla in 2006 and was most just lately vp of expertise, is now moving into the position of CTO. The Straubel announcement coupled with the weaker-than-expected outcomes pushed the inventory down 14% on Thursday, marking the steepest drop of the 12 months.

A Tesla spokesperson did not reply to a request for remark.

Jeffrey Straubel, chief technical officer and co-founder of Tesla Motors Inc., middle, speaks as billionaire Elon Musk, chief government officer of Tesla Motors Inc., left, and Yoshihiko Yamada, marketing consultant at Panasonic Corp., look on throughout a press occasion at Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.

Troy Harvey | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Musk and Straubel met in 2003, when Straubel meant to pitch him on the thought of constructing and electrical airplane. But their shared ardour for electrical autos led Musk to introduce Straubel to Tesla’s founders, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Musk backed Tesla and joined the board in 2004, a month after Straubel joined, and have become CEO in 2008.

In discussing Straubel on the earnings name, Musk mentioned, “if we hadn’t had lunch in 2003, Tesla wouldn’t exist basically.”

Even earlier than his Tesla days, Straubel was engaged on electrical automobiles. Berdichevsky, who is now CEO of Sila Nanotechnologies, mentioned he knew Straubel again when he was…


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