Zach Kirkhorn

40 under 40-2021 Zach Kirkhorn
Courtesy of Tesla
  • Age
  • Title
    CFO and “Master of Coin”
  • Company

Tesla’s future seemed dire when CEO Elon Musk shared the surprising news in 2019 that he had promoted Zach Kirkhorn to be chief financial officer. The company was grappling with widespread layoffs, consistently blown deadlines, ballooning debt, slashed vehicle prices, and a string of key executive departures. But in the year and a half since Kirkhorn stepped up, becoming one of the youngest finance chiefs in the Fortune 500 (and later, according to an SEC filing, its only official “master of coin”), he has helped lurch the company into ludicrous mode—its stock price zooming more than 1,000% and its balance sheet expanding by billions of dollars. Once known for overpromising and under-delivering, Tesla has, under Kirkhorn’s tenure, learned Wall Street–pleasing discipline, though not at the expense of its maverick attitude. Kirkhorn led Tesla’s purchase of billions of dollars of Bitcoin earlier this year, cementing its reputation as a rebel. An alum of Microsoft and McKinsey, Kirkhorn is a quiet operator who, outside the spotlight soaked up by his larger-than-life boss, makes sure the cars run on time.

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