A month after the Securities and Exchange Commission demanded he step down, Tesla’s board has replaced Elon Musk as board chair with the relatively unknown Robyn Denholm.
Denholm, who has been an independent director on Tesla’s board since 2014, will be leaving her role as CFO of Telstra (TLSYY), Australia’s largest telecoms company. Tesla said she will take the full-time role after serving out a six-month notice period, during which she’ll step town as chair of Tesla’s audit committee.
Denholm is no stranger to Silicon Valley: She’s had senior roles at companies including Juniper Networks, where she was chief financial officer, and Sun Microsystems, as well as seven years at Toyota back home in Australia. She’s one of two women on Tesla’s nine-person board.
The Wall Street Journal reports Denholm has fewer ties to Musk than other directors, perhaps making it easier for her to oversee the eccentric billionaire.
“I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value,” she said in the company’s statement.
It’s the first time Musk has relinquished any control of the company since he became board chair and CEO in 2004. He will remain CEO.
“Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company,” Musk said in the press release. “I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.”
It was just a month ago that Tesla (TSLA) and Musk came to a settlement with the SEC after an investigation into tweets Musk wrote in August about taking Tesla private at $420 a share. The SEC at first sued Musk before reaching a settlement that required Musk and Tesla to each pay $20 million in fines. It also required that he step down as chairman for three years by Nov. 13 and that Tesla add two new independent directors and establish a system to oversee Musk’s communications.