Silicon Valley VC: Al Gore Should be Tesla’s Chairman of the Board

Elon Musk of Tesla confused
Getty/ Josh Edelson and Peter Parks

With Elon Musk forced in an SEC settlement to give up Tesla Chairmanship, Al Gore’s name is being floated by a top venture capitalist as a potential candidate to Chair the new Board.

After first refusing to settle securities fraud charges regarding his August tweet claiming Tesla had a “deal” for a $420 a share buyout, CEO Elon Musk settled SEC Fraud Charges on Monday by agreeing to step down as Tesla’s chairman; the company appoint two new independent directors; Tesla will control Musk’s public comments about the company; and Tesla and Musk will each pay $20 million in penalties.

The original SEC offer that Musk refused last week, would have only required Musk to give up the Chairmanship for 2 years and pay a smaller fine. But the SEC played hardball, under the new deal Musk is out as Chair for 3 years and pays higher fine.

Rumors began swirling across Silicon Valley after Loup Ventures Managing Partner Gene Munster suggested, “The open board chairperson role creates an opportunity for Tesla to potentially put someone in place that is capable of influencing Musk and helping Tesla reach sustainability. Al Gore, currently on Apple’s board, could be an interesting fit given his interest in climate change.”

Since losing to George W. Bush for the Presidency in 2000, Gore founded the not-for-profit Alliance for Climate Protection, but he has also been a partner of the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers venture capital firm and a senior advisor to Google.

Although Gore has no manufacturing experience or history of being the Chairman of any large company, Munster has argued in one of his Silicon Valley manifestos that Musk’s behavior was hurting Tesla and new Board members need to “rein him in”:

  1. Musk is blamed for the talent drain that saw 13 key executives leave in the past year. Those senior executives Musk drove off are now working at competitors and undermining Tesla initial competitive lead in electric vehicles and autonomous driving;
  2. Musk is not only driving off existing executives, but also drastically limiting the prospective employee talent pool willing to take a high-risk position at Tesla; and
  3. Musk’s “aura of being a bad-ass billionaire” may have been great for the Tesla venture capital start-up. But as a multi-billion-dollar manufacturing operation, Musk’s “aura has seemed part jerk, part bully and part liar.”

Despite all the turmoil surrounding the company, Tesla on Tuesday issued a press release that the company produced an astonishing record of 26,239 Model S and X vehicles and 53,239 of the higher priced variant of the Model 3 for the third quarter ending September 30. The stock initially was up $5 a share but ended the day $11 lower.

Breitbart News reported in July that Munro & Associates followed up with a teardown of Tesla’s newest built Model 3 vehicles. CEO Sandy Munro praised Tesla for making phenomenal improvements in design costs, battery costs, and electronics packaging. Although he still rated the fit and finish as poor, Munro shocked the auto industry claiming the $35,000 base Model 3 should have a 30 percent profit margin.

 

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