"He doesn't take the limelight from Elon."
CFO in Chief
Per the report, the person who's really in charge is Zach Kirkhorn, who was named chief financial officer of the EV maker roughly four years ago.
When Kirkhorn became CFO, Tesla was valued at about $50 billion. Today, it's worth over $500 billion.
Tesla's successes are privately being credited to Kirkhorn, according to the report, who has learned to connect with Musk without stealing his thunder — a winning strategy that could explain the carmaker's rise, despite Musk's chaotic management style.
Though he's kept a very low profile since his appointment — Kirkhorn only has 63 followers on Twitter and keeps his account private — the elusive CFO has apparently been instrumental in implementing a number of manufacturing efficiencies, which have, as the WSJ put it, "helped the company deliver 15 consecutive profitable quarters and amass a $22 billion war chest."
That's no small accomplishment and it's even more impressive when you consider Kirkhorn has had to deal with Musk all this time — which, presumably, has been a particularly difficult job as of late.
Musk is currently in charge of a number of companies, which means he has to split his time among them all. Last year, following his disastrous acquisition of Twitter in particular, Tesla investors accused him of abandoning his duties at Tesla.
Per the report, Kirkhorn has become exceptionally good at serving as a mediator between Musk and other staffers.
"He doesn't take the limelight from Elon," Kurt Kelty, a vice president at battery-materials company Sila and former senior director of battery technology at Tesla, told the WSJ.
Perhaps most importantly, Kirkhornh is reportedly good at balancing Musk's more absurd and grandiose requests and can break down any "seemingly unattainable demand," as the WSJ put it, into smaller and achievable steps.
Steering the Wheel
Despite Kirkhorn's considerable contributions, Musk is still very much the CEO of Tesla, and any of Tesla's successes are still widely attributed to him.
For one, we're sure the stockholders are grateful.
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