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Tesla’s Chief Information Officer left to form a stealth startup


Electrek learned that Tesla’s Chief Information Officer Jay Vijayan quietly left the automaker during the last quarter to create a startup in stealth mode. Tesla Vice-President of Information Technology, Ganesh V. Iyer, is taking over Vijayan’s responsibilities as acting CIO and he will report directly to CEO Elon Musk, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Tesla had a relatively stable C-level executive team since Elon Musk took over as CEO in 2009, but it now adds up to two C-level changes in just a few months with Vijayan’s departure from the company and Tesla’s long-time CFO Deepak Ahuja announcing his retirement late last year.

Two Vice-Presidents also left the automaker last month: VP of Finance and Worldwide Controller Michael Zanoni and Tesla’s Vice President of Global Communications Ricardo Reyes.

Jay Vijayan was an important member of Tesla’s IT team and he was credited with creating the automaker’s ERP system, called Warp (like Warp Drive), which became central to the company’s operations and unique business model. Vijayan reportedly built and implemented the system in just 4 months with a small team of 25 software engineers.

It was built around three main factors differentiating Tesla from other automakers: selling cars online, servicing its own cars and frequent over-the-air updates. The Warp system allows Tesla to create a short feedback loop to engineers and quickly push updates back to customers. It manages everything from the ordering processing to the manufacturing workflow and supply chain management.

Vijayan discussed what pushed them to develop Warp during an interview with CIO Insight in 2014:

“Elon’s vision is to build a vertically integrated organization where information flow happens seamlessly across departments and where we have a closed feedback loop to our customers. By doing this, we can provide the best possible product, service and overall experience to our customers in the fastest way possible, while also operating efficiently as a business.

To bring this vision to life, we had to have simple and central business operations software that could connect all departments and enable information flow seamlessly across departments. Again, we couldn’t find one software program in the market that satisfied this need.”

The IT executive held several engineering and management positions at Oracle and VMware before joining Tesla as VP of IT and Business Applications in 2012 and being quickly promoted to CIO.

Here’s a keynote address he gave last year about Internet of Things:

We don’t know much about the mysterious startup Vijayan is launching, but coincidently (or not), it was reported last week that he led a seed investment round in FixNix, a startup building a SaaS-based Governance, Risk and Compliance platform for enterprises.

While Warp was essential to Tesla’s transition from a niche automaker with the Roadster to a higher volume manufacturer with the Model S and now the Model X, it was revealed last year that the automaker is now implementing a new custom end-to-end platform called ‘Tesla 3DX’ to ramp up for the Model 3 and Tesla Energy.

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  1. Mark B. Spiegel - 7 years ago

    Lol, “relatively stable” C-suite? How about the CFO? VP of Sales & Service? The VP of Vehicle Engineering? Besides Straubel, who from the C-suite HASN’T left?

    • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

      VPs are not C-level, yet I mentioned them and I also mentioned the CFO. Please read the article before commenting.

      • Mark B Spiegel - 7 years ago

        You’re right re mentioning the CFO- I apologize. But to imply ANY kind of management stability there by ignoring all the VP turnover is ridiculous!

      • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

        I was especially referring to the c-level officer team, which has been relatively stable until Deepak’s departure as I mentioned.

        Right after, I mentioned the VPs. Knowing your reputation, it looks like you are trying to imply that I’m not fairly representing the situation here, but I really don’t see how.

    • Marcus mendez - 7 years ago

      U will never give up , hope you’re investors like watching you lose money publicly and unoriginally

  2. dinesh - 7 years ago

    Its relieving to see that he is starting up a company! He has done a fabulous job.
    Its Vijayan not Vajayan*

  3. Nathanael - 7 years ago

    “The Warp system allows Tesla to create a short feedback loop to engineers ”

    Really? Then why haven’t they fixed bugs which have been reported by hundreds of people repeatedly for three years?

    Seems like a very long feedback loop to me.

    • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

      There are plenty of reasons other than feedback that can explain why something CAN’T or WON’T be done.

  4. Brian Klangky - 7 years ago

    Mr. Lambert:

    The following may indicate the C suite has been less than stable

    The SEC requires annual disclosure of the compensation paid to the CEO, CFO, and the next three most highly compensated officers. Since the IPO, Musk, Ahuja, and Straubel have occupied the first 3 positions, but positions 4. and 5. have been in a constant state of flux. Since the IPO, the occupants have been:

    IPO..Walker and Donoughe/ Sobel (the latter 2 both “left” before the end of the reporting period and there is ambiguity as to how to calculate “compensation” in that situation.)

    2011…Blankenship and Whitaker

    2012..Blankenship and Passin

    2013 Passin and Blankenship

    2014 Guillen and Reichow

    During 2015 Gullen and Ahuja left Tesla and were replaced by Field and Wheeler; recently in 2016 McNeill filed a form 3 indicating he has replaced either Field or Reichow as a Section 16 officer.

    • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

      Compensation is not a great way to look at C-suite turnover.

      Wheeler didn’t replace Field or Reichow. They are both still at the company. Reichow is not C-Suite but he is a VP and considered a senior executive. Same goes for Doug Field.

      Wheeler replaced Ahuja as CFO, and this change is the only other mentioned in the article, as it should be.

      Whitaker is not at Tesla anymore but he also wasn’t a C-Suite but the company’s General Counsel.

      Passin is still at Tesla as VP of Manufacturing and Guillen hasn’t officially left Tesla and he is still on leave.

      As for Blankenship, he retired, but he also wasn’t c-suite at Tesla. he was VP.

      • Brian Klangky - 7 years ago

        OK, not to be argumentative but I did not state that Wheeler replaced Field or Reichow. I said “McNeill filed a form 3 indicating he has replaced either Field or Reichow as a Section 16 officer.”

        Aside from the CEO, CFO, and CTO, what positions do you consider C suite? Who is Tesla’s COO?

        Tesla”s SEC filing stated “On August 4, 2015, Jerome Guillen, our Vice President, Worldwide Service and Deliveries, notified Tesla that he will be taking a leave of absence until December 31, 2015.” When do you think Mr. Guillen will return?


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