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

by Ana Lopez

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

The company said in a regulatory submission Thursday that if elected by shareholders (which is almost a certainty), Straubel 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 audit committee in 2020 and is not seeking re-election.

Straubel, who joined Tesla in 2004 and served as CTO for 14 years, was largely seen as the quiet steady hand behind controversial CEO Elon Musk. Straubel’s role at Tesla cannot be underestimated. The director was responsible for some of the company’s key technology, particularly in the battery field. His understated but steady presence along with his technological acumen provided stability even as the 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. At the time, Tesla said Straubel would remain in the senior advisor role.

After Straubel left the automaker, he plunged into scaling Redwood Materials, a supplier and recycler of battery materials founded in 2017. Based in Carson City, Nevada, Redwood Materials has since raised and secured hundreds of millions in corporate and venture capital in several high-profile customer deals with companies such as Panasonic and Amazon.

Tesla’s shareholders’ meeting is scheduled for May 16.

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