JB Straubel could return to Tesla – as a board member this time


Tesla has nominated JB Straubel, the company’s former CTO who is now running his own startup Redwood Materials, as its next independent board member.

The company said in a regulatory filing Thursday that Straubel, if elected by shareholders (which is almost a certainty) would take over the spot vacated by Hiromichi Mizuno, the former chief investment officer of Japan’s $1.5 trillion pension fund. Mizuno joined the board and its audit committee in 2020 and will not stand for re-election.

“Thank you Elon and the Tesla board for the nomination; it’s an honor to be considered and to help the sustainable energy transition in as many ways as I can,” Straubel said in a note to TechCrunch.

Straubel, who joined Tesla in 2004 and was CTO for 14 years, was largely viewed as the quiet steady hand behind its controversial CEO Elon Musk. Straubel’s role at Tesla cannot be understated. The executive was responsible for some of the company’s most important technology, notably around batteries. His understated yet steady presence along with his technological acumen gave provided stability even when its CEO became embroiled in controversy.

During his tenure at Tesla, Straubel led the construction and concept of Gigafactory Nevada and the production ramp of its Model 3 sedan.

Straubel left Tesla in 2019. Drew Baglino, vice president of technology, took over his duties. At the time, Tesla said Straubel would stay on in a senior advisor role.

After Straubel left the automaker he threw himself into scaling Redwood Materials, a battery materials supplier and recycler that was founded in 2017. Redwood Materials, which is based in Carson City, Nevada, has since landed hundreds of millions in corporate and venture capital and locked in several high-profile customer deals with companies like Panasonic and Amazon.

Tesla’s shareholder meeting is scheduled for May 16.

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