Tesla’s CFO Resigns Unexpectedly, Sending Stock Sliding

Q.ai — a Forbes Company
3 min readAug 8, 2023



Key takeaways

  • Tesla’s CFO, Zachary Kirkhorn, has suddenly left the company
  • The move has unnerved investors, who had Kirkhorn pegged as a potential successor to Elon Musk
  • Tesla shares closed 1% down at the unexpected news

Tesla’s Master of Coin has departed, leaving Elon Musk scrambling for a replacement. Yes, that’s the official title of Tesla’s CFO as Zachary Kirkhorn leaves for pastures new. The sudden announcement left investors wary of dissent in the ranks, sending Tesla’s stock price down. Here’s the latest.

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What’s the latest with Tesla?

Tesla CFO Zachary Kirkhorn has resigned after 13 years at the company, having taken on the top financial role in 2019. As of Friday last week, the chief accounting officer, Vaibhav Taneja, took on the CFO role while still retaining his accounting position; Kirkhorn is set to stay at Tesla until the end of the year.

As CFO, Kirkhorn was part of Tesla posting its first-ever quarterly profit and hitting a market valuation of over $1 trillion. It’s the most significant executive change at the company since 2021 when Jerome Guillen departed the world’s biggest EV maker.

The move has drawn raised eyebrows from onlookers, who are unnerved at the sudden change. Kirkhorn put out a polite LinkedIn (not Twitter/X, we note) post, while Elon tweeted his thanks for Kirkhorn’s service, but the sudden announcement has left many wondering if there’s more to the story.

Tesla’s stock market performance in 2023

Wall Street doesn’t like surprises — especially when they’re without any explanation. The news left Tesla’s share price closing down 1%, wiping around 47 billion off the company’s market share.

Nonetheless, Tesla investors have witnessed a bull run for the stock this year. Tesla shares have skyrocketed 132% on the Nasdaq since the start of the year, at one point gaining 40% in value over two weeks as many of Tesla’s EV rivals agreed to adopt the Tesla charger design so they could access the Supercharger network.

Tesla’s stellar performance has helped to bump the Nasdaq’s performance up 34% so far this year, having already closed a record first half of 2023. The S&P 500 has gained 18.1% in the same timeframe.

The bottom line

The timing of Kirkhorn’s departure, as someone who was considered a potential successor should Musk wish to take a step back, got Wall Street’s backs up. In reality it’s likely a temporary blip for the share price — especially as Cybertrucks start to hit the roads.

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