- Tesla CFO Vaibhav Taneja sold 4,000 shares in the company in late November, a move which comes as it faces growing investor scrutiny, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Elon Musk, who changed his title to Technoking from CEO of the Austin, Texas-based electric vehicle maker, has faced blowback in the wake of recent antagonistic comments he made about advertisers on his social media platform X, formerly Twitter, which cast a shadow over Tesla even as it finally delivered its long anticipated Cybertruck.
- Taneja previously served as the EV maker’s chief accounting officer, before moving into its top finance seat following the departure of previous CFO and “Master of Coin” Zachary Kirkhorn in August, CFO Dive previously reported.
Prior to the 4,000 shares he sold on Nov. 29, Tenaja sold approximately 8,177 shares over the three month period beginning Sept. 5, according to the company filing. Tesla’s share price opened at approximately $249 on the day of his most recently reported sale. Under SEC Rule 10b5-1, company insiders including executives and directors are allowed to buy and sell company stock with the creation of a trading plan with the regulator; Taneja adopted his current trading plan this past February, according to the company filing.
The CFO’s selling of shares once again put a spotlight on goings-on at Tesla, which has faced growing investor scrutiny as it seeks to hang on to its position as the dominant player in the steadily more saturated EV market.
Taneja took financial leadership of the EV maker as it moved to bolster consumer demand in the face of high interest rates and other economic headwinds impacting the broader EV market. Attention on Tesla has only sharpened in recent weeks thanks in part to a recent outburst by Tesla CEO Elon Musk regarding advertising woes at Musk-owned social media site X, formerly Twitter.
During the New York Times' DealBook Summit this past Wednesday, Musk accused advertisers of “blackmail” after they pulled back from the site following his liking of an antisemitic post. In a profanity-laced diatribe, Musk lambasted companies for removing their ads in what he said was an attempt to force the site into more restrictive content moderation practices. Musk also appeared to refer to Bob Iger, the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, following the statement; Iger, who also attended the summit, was asked earlier about the company’s decision to pull advertising from X.
Iger noted that Musk’s name is “very much tied” to the companies he either owns or founded, including X and Tesla, and that the company felt that as Musk had taken the position he had in public, “the association with that position and Elon Musk and X was not necessarily a positive one for us,” he said, according to a Business Insider report.
Video of the summit made waves just a day before Tesla’s delivery event for its long-awaited Cybertruck product got underway on Nov. 30, to lukewarm results. Tesla shares fell 2% to $242 on Thursday after the company delivered its first Cybertrucks. Troubles with the truck’s deliveries and production left investors unimpressed, as did the vehicle’s price tag — starting prices for the rear-wheel drive Cybertruck begin at $60,990, compared to the original $39,900 price touted by the company during the product’s inception in 2019, according to reports.
The truck’s underwhelming launch comes after Tesla reported disappointing financial results for its fiscal third quarter, with Musk stating that there “will be enormous challenges in reaching volume production with the Cybertruck, and then in making a Cybertruck cash flow positive” during the company’s earnings call in October.
The EV maker reported weaker than expected revenues for its third quarter as well as a jump in operating income after a move to slash the prices of several of its vehicles failed to bolster consumer demand, CFO Dive previously reported. The company also saw deliveries for the quarter decline and has faced other headwinds in vehicle sales and production; sales of its Chinese-manufactured vehicles dropped by 17.8% in November compared to the previous year, according to a report by The Street. Tesla’s market share also dipped to 50% compared to 62% in the year’s first quarter, CFO Dive reported.
Though long-anticipated, the Cybertruck’s price range places it in a crowded field — the futuristic-looking truck faces stiff competition from automakers which have long reigned supreme in the pickup space including GM and Ford, both of which have also recently unveiled EV trucks of their own, according to a report by CNN. It will also take some time for Tesla to reap the financial benefits of the Cybertruck, with Wedbush analysts predicting the product won’t be cash-flow positive for another 12 to 18 months.