Tesla CTO and co-founder JB Straubel has sold about ~$3 million worth in TSLA shares after exercising a bunch of options. We’ve also learned that his presence around the Palo Alto office has been ‘scarce’ over the past 6-8 months or so.

Straubel has been with Tesla since the very beginning.

He is actually credited with bringing Elon Musk on board and therefore, he technically predates Musk at the company. Although, Musk was later also made a co-founder due to his crucial early financial contribution to the company since the very early days.

For years now, he has been leading several important technology programs for Tesla, especially related to its battery and power electronics.

Two sources who have worked with Straubel told Electrek recently that Straubel’s presence at Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto has been “scarce” over the last 6-8 months.

One source even thought that he was on leave, but the executive did make an appearance on Tesla’s latest earnings call last month.

We asked Tesla about the situation, but the automaker didn’t respond to our inquiry.

Today, Tesla also filed with the SEC to disclose that Straubel has exercised 15,000 options and sold them on Tuesday for ~$2.8 million:

The options were not going to expire until 2022, but the filing says that he was planning to sell the exercised options since late last year. Straubel still holds over 300,000 shares of Tesla. Straubel being an officer of the company would require disclosure if he was actually on a real leave of absence.

Electrek’s Take

Of all the things that happened at Tesla over the last few months, learning from two reliable sources that JB was making himself scarce lately was definitely one of the most worrying to me.

He always seemed to be an important reason behind Tesla’s long-standing technology lead in the EV space.

I was hoping for an explanation from Tesla, but they didn’t offer up a response.

However, there could be plenty of good reasons why he isn’t seen much these days.

He could be working more out of other Tesla locations, like Gigafactory 1 or the LA design studio or some skunk works location. Or, he could be working on another project with a small and personal team, like the mysterious material recycling startup that has been linked to him and Tesla.

Or it could not be work-related and he could actually be stepping back for personal reasons.

Who knows? But his absence was important enough to worry some people at Tesla who spoke to us.

We will try to monitor the situation over the next few months and report back. If you have more information, you can reach out at fred@9to5mac.com.


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