Tesla CEO Elon Musk stands on the podium while attending a forum on startups in Hong Kong, China.
Bobby Yip | Reuters
Elon Musk has run two ambitious tech companies at the same time since becoming chairman and later CEO of electric car maker Tesla, while also leading SpaceX, a reusable rocket and satellite internet business.
He started his brain and computer interface company Neuralink, and a drilling company called Boring Co. In 2017, he is in the midst of a controversial lawsuit with Twitter over the failed acquisition.
With his attention split, Musk is counting on a large team of deputies—more than 20 people today—to keep Tesla running. His team often shifts from direct reports with strategic or organizational changes, “instant dismissals” by Mercurial’s CEO, and resignations.
Here are the first-hand reports we know as of September 2022. Data was collected from interviews with current and recent Tesla employees, LinkedIn profiles, and internal and public records of Tesla, and may not include all persons reporting to it.
The headcount numbers are approximate and indicate the number of people all of Musk’s direct reports were managing as of early September.
There are now about 22% of CEO direct reports in Texas, about half are still based in California, and more than 90% are men.
Musk will need to count on these deputies as Tesla works to bring its new plants in Gruenheide, Germany and Austin, Texas, to full production, and demonstrate progress on its many other goals.
Musk told shareholders and fans that Tesla will work on a “complete self-driving solution” this year, improve vehicle service and repairs, and begin delivery of the Cybertruck test truck by mid-2023. Musk also said Tesla will boost its own battery manufacturing capacity to produce 100 gigawatts worth of capacity. / hour from 4,680 batteries alone this year, enough to power more than 1 million of its cars.
Musk’s direct reports recently needed to navigate staff cuts amid uncertain economic times.
The CEO abruptly announced a sharp cut in Tesla’s workforce at the end of May during a difficult second quarter, marked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the COVID-19 outbreak in China.
In June, Tesla shut down its entire Autopilot office in San Mateo, firing at least some employees who were previously authorized to work remotely but did not agree to an order from Musk to work in the Tesla office at least 40 hours a week. Musk cited a “very bad feeling” about the economy in an email to Tesla employees in June.
Andre Karpathi, a former AI director at Tesla, was not among those laid off or fired by Musk, however, he formally announced his resignation from the company in July. The autopilot commander, Ashok Elluswamy, is reporting directly to Musk at the moment.
Musk’s other direct reports that he split from Tesla in 2022 included former Nevada Gigafactory vice president Chris Lister, as previously reported by CNBC, and Jan Frazier, who was Tesla’s senior manager of employee relations, according to internal documents seen by CNBC.
Records indicate that David Searle, who previously headed the legal department at Tesla, still works there. The insider said they expect Searle to leave in the coming months because he previously managed more than a dozen employees and now has only one direct report included in internal organizational charts.
According to public and internal records, Dinna Eskin’s chief legal officer now serves as Tesla’s legal director and is effectively the company’s general counsel. Tesla has not officially hired a person with the title of General Counsel since late 2019.