Tesla stock plunges after chief accounting officer, HR head depart

Key executive separations -- one after less than a month with the company -- send Wall Street into a tizzy.

Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
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Tesla's stock took a steep dive in early trading Friday after more key executive departures were disclosed.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

At Tesla , the only constant is change. Nowhere is that well-worn adage truer than in its executive ranks, which has endured a furious churn rate compared to traditional automakers. On Friday, that trend got new legs: News broke that Tesla's chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, gave notice on Tuesday of this week — less than a month into his tenure.

Further, it has just been revealed that Gabrielle Toledano, Tesla's head of human resources, will not be returning to the Silicon Valley electric car company, either. Toledano joined Tesla in May 2017, but had been on a leave of absence since last month.

The departure of these key executives has sent Wall Street into a frenzy, with early Friday trading seeing Tesla's stock tanking by as much as 10 percent. As of this writing, $TSLA is down 5.19 percent to $266.37 at 8:07 a.m. PT.

According to a company 8-K filing, Morton cited the level of public scrutiny as among the reasons he was leaving his post so quickly: "Since I joined Tesla on Aug. 6, the level of public attention placed on the company, as well as the pace within the company, have exceeded my expectations." The former Seagate executive continued, "This caused me to reconsider my future. I want to be clear that I believe strongly in Tesla, its mission and its future prospects, and I have no disagreements with Tesla's leadership or its financial reporting."

Morton joined Tesla just a day before CEO Elon Musk posted on Twitter that he was considering taking the company private after lining up investors at $420 a share. Musk's tweet sent stock prices soaring and sent shockwaves throughout the auto industry, but it was short-lived. Just 17 days later, Musk said he was no longer pursuing such avenues. In the meantime, a number of lawsuits alleging stock price manipulation were filed, and an SEC investigation was launched.


Elon Musk appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience hours before key executive departures were revealed.

The Joe Rogan Experience

For his part, on Thursday, Musk appeared on comedian Joe Rogan's popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, in a t-shirt, where he spoke at length on a wide range of topics -- including Tesla -- while drinking whiskey and smoking weed. (Marijuana is legal under state law in Los Angeles, where the podcast was recorded.)

In August, a frank, far-reaching and emotional Musk interview with The New York Times also sent Tesla stock tumbling.

The California automaker continues to struggle with ramp up of its pivotal Model 3 electric sedan, but production numbers have been improving, and the automobile has been earning strong reviews owing to its driving performance.

Tesla did not immediately return Roadshow's request for comment.

A quick drive (literally) in Tesla's Model 3 Performance

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