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Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler leaving to pursue public policy, former Tesla CFO Deepak Ahuja to return in April


Tesla has announced that CFO Jason Wheeler will be leaving his position in April, to be replaced by former CFO Deepak Ahuja (center of picture above), who Wheeler had originally replaced last year.  Deepak will return in a “long-term” role, not in an interim capacity, according to CEO Elon Musk.

Prior to working at Tesla, Wheeler was Google’s VP of Finance, and now he’s planning to leave Tesla to work in the public sector on public policy. Wheeler said on today’s earnings call that this was a “longtime itch” of his, and that he wouldn’t leave to scratch it unless he knew Tesla was in good hands.  He also mentioned that Ahuja is clearly a competent executive, as he was involved in helping bring Tesla back from bankruptcy (which Musk quickly reminded us happened a “long time ago”).

While this is a fairly sudden and unexpected departure, particularly considering Tesla’s performance under Wheeler which produced Tesla’s first profitable quarter in three years, it is understandable that he would want to pursue public policy at this particular point in time.  With the recent confirmation of climate-denier Scott Pruitt as EPA chief, it is apparent that public policy will be an important sphere in terms of working to protect the environment through the next 4 years.

In this political climate, Wheeler is “looking forward to continuing to champion [the cause of sustainable energy] from a public policy perspective.”  For his part, Wheeler says that he came into Tesla passionate about the cause, and now leaves Tesla even more passionate than he entered. While Tesla will surely miss this competent executive, hopefully all of us can benefit from his new focus on policy – which, of course, will also benefit Tesla as they position themselves as a leader in sustainable energy.

Ahuja will be taking over next month for a month long transition before Wheeler leaves.

Tesla released a blog post to announce the change:

CFO Jason Wheeler to Depart in April to Pursue Opportunities in Public Policy

Deepak Ahuja Will Return as CFO

Tesla today announced that CFO Jason Wheeler has decided to leave the company in April to pursue opportunities in public policy. Jason will be replaced by Deepak Ahuja, who was Tesla’s first CFO and worked for the company for more than seven years before stepping away in 2015. Deepak will formally take over as CFO in early March, with Jason remaining at Tesla through early April to ensure a smooth transition.

With his many years of experience at a high-volume automaker like Ford and his deep institutional knowledge of Tesla, Deepak will help Tesla continue to scale as it prepares to launch Model 3.

Jason made a number of significant contributions at Tesla, including leading the company to a profitable third quarter last year, significantly improving the company’s cash position, helping to lead the acquisition of SolarCity, and preparing Tesla to scale for the launch of Model 3.

“Jason has been a key member of Tesla’s leadership team, and he has played an important role in further improving the company’s financial position,” said Tesla co-founder and CEO, Elon Musk. “I want to thank Jason and wish him success as he moves into public policy. Looking ahead, we’re pleased to have Deepak join us again to ensure a seamless transition for Tesla.”

“It’s been an honor to work for such an incredible company,” Wheeler said. “After spending the last 15 years helping to make information accessible to everyone and to advance sustainable energy, I’m looking forward to continuing to champion these causes and others from a public policy perspective.“

“It is a very important time in the history of Tesla, and I’m excited to be back,” Ahuja said. “This is a unique opportunity to rejoin the talented and driven team at Tesla. Every day they are working passionately to significantly improve the long-term future of humanity.”

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Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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