Tesla names Larry Ellison to board

Larry Ellison

Tesla Inc on Friday named Oracle Corp co-founder Larry Ellison, a shareholder and self-admitted close friend of CEO Elon Musk, to its board to give the independent oversight demanded by U.S. regulators following Musk’s tweet about taking the electric automaker private.

The move is meant to bring Tesla past months of turbulence after Musk’s August 7 tweet that he was thinking about taking the company private and had secured funding.

The fallout, which consisting of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission subsequently filing fraud charges against the CEO for what it said were his “false and misleading” tweets, led some investors to ask for stronger board oversight of Musk.

The addition of Ellison puts one of the world’s richest people with experience building a startup into a profitable company on Tesla’s board. He served as a director at Apple at a critical time for that firm – in the five years after Steve Jobs returned to the helm of the then struggling computer maker in 1997, assisting oversee one the greatest turnarounds in corporate history.

Joining Ellison on the board, effective December 27, was Walgreens Boots Alliance’s global head of human resources, Kathleen Wilson-Thompson.

Charles Elson, director of the corporate governance center at the University of Delaware, doubted adding a friend of Musk’s and another director with lack of experience at an industrial company like Tesla.

“Why would you put a friend (on the board) if the idea of the two independent directors were to be objective,” Elson stated. “Investors who were hoping for two newly objective directors who could stand up to Mr. Musk would be rather disappointed by this.”

SEC officials could not be reached for discussion on Friday, but Harvey Pitt, the agency’s former chairman, regards the inclusion of Ellison a positive step.

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