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The Tesla CFO who oversaw consistent profits, an investment grade rating and was even ‘Master of Coin,’ is leaving after 13 years at the company



Tesla Inc. said Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn stepped down after 13 years at the company, a surprise shakeup at the electric-vehicle maker.

Chief Accounting Officer Vaibhav Taneja took on the CFO role in addition to his current duties as of Aug. 4, Tesla said Monday in a regulatory filing. Kirkhorn, who has been the finance chief for the past four years, will continue to serve the company through the end of the year “to support a seamless transition.”

Taneja, 45, has been Tesla’s accounting chief since 2019. He held other roles at the EV maker before that and previously worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in India and the US.

Tesla shares turned negative on the news in early trading. They fell 2.6% as of 9:48 a.m. in New York. The stock price has doubled so far this year.

The unexpected departure adds new uncertainty for Tesla as it builds out production capacity to bring its Cybertruck pickup to market later this year and fend off rivals in the increasingly crowded EV market. The Austin-based company has been lowering prices to help maintain its position atop the electric-car industry.

Before Kirkhorn took over as CFO in early 2019 at the age of 34, Tesla had a long history of losses and occasionally burned more than $1 billion of cash per quarter. The company has been consistently profitable since then and repaid about $10 billion of debt in the last three years, helping it secure investment-grade ratings.

Kirkhorn, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, joined Tesla in March 2010 as a senior analyst in the finance department. He worked under his predecessors as CFO, Deepak Ahuja and Jason Wheeler.

On Monday, Kirkhorn thanked Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk for his leadership in a post on LinkedIn. “Being a part of this company is a special experience and I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done together,” he wrote.

Kirkhorn added “Master of Coin” to his job title in early 2021, about a month after Tesla disclosed it had made a $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin. The tongue-in-cheek title was given at the same time Musk became “Technoking of Tesla.”

The company’s filing Monday did not mention “Master of Coin” as one of Taneja’s roles as new CFO.

(Updates with additional details throughout.)

–With assistance from Craig Trudell and David Welch.

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