Amid Pot-Smoking Ruckus Elon Musk Turns To A Tesla Loyalist To Run Auto Operations


Shares of Tesla plunged as much as 9 percent Friday after news of a pair of C-suite executive resignations and a bizarre video showing CEO Elon Musk smoking pot on a podcast, capping a tumultuous month since Musk launched the company into controversy with a take-private tweet.


The stock opened Friday’s session at $260.10 before paring losses slightly. Shares were roughly 7 percent down after the first hour of trading, closing down 6 percent. It extends a painful week for the automaker. As of Friday’s close, the stock lost more than 11 percent on the week.

Late Thursday, Musk smoked marijuana and sipped whiskey during an appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast — fueling concerns about his recreational drug use.

But even the notion of a marijuana-smoking chief executive seemed less disturbing to Tesla watchers than the departure of Dave Morton, the accounting chief, whose immediate resignation was reported Friday in a securities filing. His first day of work was Aug. 6, one day before Mr. Musk’s Twitter pronouncement about going private, an initiative that surprised even Tesla’s board. And by Mr. Morton’s own account, the Tesla culture quickly proved to be a bad fit.

“The level of public attention placed on the company, as well as the pace within the company, have exceeded my expectations,” Mr. Morton said in a statement included in the filing. “As a result, this caused me to reconsider my future.”

He went on to say, “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.”

After the company dropped its pursuit of a stock buyout, it seemed ready to focus on its strategic goals: production of the crucial Model 3 sedan and a push to deliver profits. But analysts said the sudden exit of Mr. Morton — the latest in a growing exodus of top Tesla executives — prompted new questions about the company.