The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed charges against Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk that claim he committed fraud at the time he said he could the car company private and had the funds to do so. The government wants Musk out. If it prevails, who could take his job?
To run Tesla and simultaneously calm investors and convince them the company continues to have the opportunity to be among the industry’s greatest innovators, the count of potential candidates is tiny. Ideally, a new CEO would need an engineering background, a great reputation on Wall Street and a reputation that would also bring in other impressive executives.
First among the candidates has to be Alan Mulally, the CEO who turned around Ford. He has an engineering background and was in senior management at Boeing. He ran America’s second largest car company from 2006 to 2014. He is only 73. There is hardly a global car company in the world that would not like to have him as its chief executive officer. He would walk in the door with everything Tesla needs.
Dieter Zetsche is about to retire as CEO of Daimler and the head of its Mercedes car unit. Mercedes is considered one of the leaders in the chase to catch Tesla in the luxury electric car space. A trained engineer, he might reject an offer outright because of his allegiance to Daimler, where he has worked since 1976.
John Krafcik is the CEO of Waymo, the self-driving car division of Alphabet. It is considered one of the few companies that can compete head to head in the autonomous car sector. He has an engineering degree from Stamford and a management degree from MIT. Waymo’s huge investment in technology and years of testing on open roads have made Krafcik among the most visible leaders in the industry.
Tesla has a management problem, but not one that can’t be fixed.