With all that in mind, some analysts and fund managers are hoping Musk will finally hire a chief operating officer. Or, at a bare minimum, they want him to announce a Tesla succession plan.
They have a point.
“If anything happens to Musk, I don’t know what Tesla would do. I’ve been pushing the board of directors to have a COO and succession plan,” said Ross Gerber, co-founder and CEO of Gerber Kawasaki, an investment firm that has its largest position in Tesla but recently trimmed ts stake.
“It’s absurd that a company worth nearly $600 billion is run this way,” Gerber said, “especially since Musk has so many other things going on.”
Tesla did not respond to CNN Business’ requests for comment on this story.
Top executive left the company
The nearly 11-year Tesla veteran had been running the trucking division and previously served in many roles, including president of the automotive division and program director on Tesla’s Model S sedan.
The departure of Guillen underscores how important it is for Musk to have a true operations guru who can focus on the details of the core car business without getting distracted by things like crypto and social media memes.
“Jerome leaving Tesla is a huge void that will be tough to fill and increases pressure on finally hiring a COO under Musk,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives in an email to CNN Business.
“Guillen has been a key part of the Tesla DNA success story over the last decade and he was tapped to lead the heavy trucking endeavors, which is now in a state of limbo,” Ives added.
But the bench at Tesla now looks shockingly thin to many Wall Street observers.
David Whiston, an auto analyst at Morningstar, said in an email to CNN Business that the only executive left who might make sense as a Musk successor is Andrew “Drew” Baglino, Tesla’s senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering, who has been with the company since 2006.
“Wall Street doesn’t have a clear #2 unless it’s Drew Baglino,” Whiston wrote, adding that he did not think the company would tap chief financial officer Zach Kirkhorn as a successor.
“Guillen had a lot of operations/manufacturing knowledge that needs to be replaced,” Whiston said. He added that “finding an outsider willing to take a COO role under Elon will be hard” due to Musk’s penchant for micromanaging.
Tesla stock has had an electric run but has cooled lately
To be sure, many Tesla investors are not overly concerned about life after Musk. The company has been a phenomenal investment for longtime backers, surging more than 1,200% in the past five years.
But investors still may be growing a little frustrated by Musk’s constant tweeting and what seems like a lack of focus and self-discipline.
Shares of Tesla are down nearly 15% this year, even as the Nasdaq has gained 8% and the S&P 500 is up about 13%. Rival US automakers have also left Tesla stock in the dust this year, as investors grow excited about their prospects in the EV market.
“Jerome departing stage left is disappointing to see,” said Ives, the Wedbush analyst. “Musk runs and controls the strategic vision of Tesla, but the executive bench is thin at a time that competition is coming from all angles in this EV green tidal wave.”