The miscues that made 2018 an agonizing year for Elon Musk are back.
Tesla announced Wednesday its general counsel has left, two months after hiring him in the wake of Musk’s run-in with U.S. securities regulators.
Hours before that news, the CEO was sending tweets reminiscent of those that put him and the company in legal jeopardy last year.
Dane Butswinkas, the trial lawyer who represented Musk in his legal battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, departed due to a poor cultural fit at Tesla and the desire to return full-time to his trial practice in Washington, D.C.
He will continue to work with Tesla in an outside counsel role, according to an emailed company statement.
Jonathan Chang, a vice president in Tesla’s legal department, is taking over effective immediately.
The departure came on the heels of a production projection Musk tweeted, then backtracked from, late Tuesday.
The developments renew concerns about retention of key executives and the CEO’s social media habits — issues that distracted from Tesla’s manufacturing achievements in 2018.
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“This is another in a string of high-profile executive departures,” said Jeffrey Osborne, an analyst at Cowen and Co. who rates Tesla the equivalent of a sell.
“Investors have gotten numb to the turnover as it has been a lingering issue in technical, accounting, HR and now legal roles. This is just one more thing on the wall of worry for investors to consider.”