Tesla shareholders elect former CTO, co-founder JB Straubel to board

JB Straubel is officially back at Tesla — this time as a board member.

The former Tesla CTO and co-founder was elected by shareholders Tuesday as an independent board of director. A crowd of Tesla shareholders, who were at the company's Gigafactory Texas in Austin for the event, cheered when the initial results were read and Straubel was officially declared its newest board member.

Shareholders elected three directors to serve for a three-year term. Tesla had nominated Elon Musk, current chair Robyn Denholm and Straubel.

Prior to Tesla's 2023 shareholder meeting, Tesla's eight-person board was composed of Musk, his brother Kimbal Musk, Ira Ehrenpreis, chair Robyn Denholm, Hiromichi Mizuno, Joe Gebbia, James Murdoch and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson.

Straubel, who currently runs the battery materials and recycling company he founded, will take over the spot vacated by Mizuno, the former chief investment officer of Japan’s $1.5 trillion pension fund. Mizuno joined the board and its audit committee in 2020 and will not stand for reelection.

Straubel joined Tesla in 2004 and was CTO for 14 years. He was largely viewed as the quiet, steady hand behind its controversial CEO. Straubel was responsible for some of the company’s most important technology, notably around batteries. As a result, he is a wildly popular executive. When he was nominated to the board, it was assumed he would be elected to the position.

During his tenure at Tesla, Straubel led the construction and concept of Gigafactory Nevada and the production ramp of its Model 3 sedan. Straubel left Tesla in 2019. Drew Baglino, vice president of technology, took over his duties. At the time, Tesla said Straubel would stay on in a senior advisor role.

After Straubel left the automaker, he threw himself into scaling Redwood Materials, a battery materials supplier and recycler that was founded in 2017. Redwood Materials, which is based in Carson City, Nevada, has since landed hundreds of millions in corporate and venture capital and locked in several high-profile customer deals with companies like Panasonic and Amazon.