Tesla CAO Morton Quits After a Month on Job

Dave Morton's resignation "comes at a particularly precarious financial time" for the automaker.
Matthew HellerSeptember 7, 2018

In another possible sign of disarray at Tesla, Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton has resigned after less than a month on the job.

Tesla said in a regulatory filing Friday that Morton notified them on Monday he was leaving the automaker. He had joined Tesla from hard drive maker Seagate Technology, where he served as chief financial officer.

“Since I joined Tesla on August 6th, the level of public attention placed on the company, as well as the pace within the company, have exceeded my expectations,” Morton said in his resignation letter. “As a result, this caused me to reconsider my future.”

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“I want to be clear that I believe strongly in Tesla, its mission, and its future prospects, and I have no disagreements with Tesla’s leadership or its financial reporting,” he added.

Investors did not appear to be reassured, as Tesla’s shares dropped as much as 10% in trading Friday morning, the biggest hit to the company’s market capitalization in two years.

“Executive departures are not a new thing for Tesla … but Morton’s resignation comes at a particularly precarious financial time for the company,” The Verge said, noting that Tesla still hasn’t turned a yearly profit and has been eating through its cash reserves as it ramps up production of the Model 3 sedan.

Morton replaced Eric Branderiz, who left Tesla in March. He was in charge of Tesla’s corporate financial reporting and global accounting, payroll, tax, and trade activities.

However, on only Morton’s second day on the job, Tesla CEO Elon Musk rattled Wall Street by tweeting that he had “funding secured” to take the company private. He abandoned that effort a few weeks later amid shareholder opposition.

“A lot of the ‘public attention’ Tesla received during Morton’s brief tenure was focused on the possibility of Tesla going private,” Ars Technica said. “It’s safe to assume that members of Tesla’s finance team were working overtime on issues related to the proposal during Morton’s month at Tesla.”

Tesla said its accounting functions and personnel will now be overseen by CFO Deepak Ahuja and its corporate controller, “as had been the case prior to and during Dave’s transition to Tesla.”