Tesla Finally Adds More Independent Directors to Its Board

July 17, 2017, 9:10 PM UTC
Tesla Motors Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk News Conference
Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc., attends a key delivery ceremony of the company's premium electric sedan Model S vehicles to customers in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014.
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Following months of pressure from investors, Tesla has added two new independent directors to its board. James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, and Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing, will join the nine-member board as directors with no prior relationship to Tesla or its CEO Elon Musk.

CtW Investment Group, which works with union pension funds, called on Tesla to add at least two independent directors—and pushed for additional steps, including a declassification of the board that would allow stockholders to elect its members annually and a ban on permitting two family members to serve on the board concurrently (Kimbal Musk, Elon Musk’s brother, is a member of the board). The suggestions provoked a testy response from the board’s chairman:

Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert, has held multiple roles within his father’s empire—including head of European satellite broadcaster Sky—before taking the reins at Fox in 2015.

Johnson Rice will be the second woman on Tesla’s board after Robyn Denholm, COO of Australian telecom Telstra, who is also the board’s first African-American member.