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Ellison Adds Board Influence as Rare Peer to Musk

Tesla announced that Larry Ellison and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson joined the company’s board effective this past Thursday. We’ve hoped Tesla would add more independence and influence to its board and believe this announcement is a strong step forward to that end.

Larry Ellison is a rare peer to Elon Musk, given he built one of the world’s largest and most important technology companies. In many ways, Larry was “Elon” before Elon was Elon. Or maybe Elon is the new Larry — the boldest of tech entrepreneurs. Either way, we see Ellison as someone that may be able to influence Musk when he veers into unhelpful or unhealthy territory. There may be some apprehension around the independence of Ellison given that he and Elon have been portrayed as friends, but we note that Ellison previously served on Apple’s board, working with one of his best friends, Steve Jobs, from 1997-2002. We don’t expect the friendship between the two, however deep, to influence Ellison’s advice to Musk.

While Ellison is the obvious headline add to the board, Kathleen Wilson-Thompson brings a skillset important to Tesla: HR. We’ve previously written about the talent drain at Tesla, some of which seems to be due to Musk’s behavior. We think that Wilson-Thompson working with Musk at the board level could be influential in helping the company add new talent, which will be critical in building a sustainable organization.

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