James Murdoch Joins Tesla Board

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James Murdoch

The electric vehicle company has been pressured for months by large investors to add a couple of directors who don't have ties to Elon Musk.

James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, has joined Tesla's board of directors, the energy-efficient car company run by Elon Musk said Monday.

"James has been instrumental in the company's robust social impact initiatives, including its decade-long leadership on environmental sustainability," Tesla said in a post announcing the appointment.

Along with Murdoch, Tesla also added to its board Linda Johnson Rice, the CEO of Johnson Publishing Co. and Ebony Media Operations and chairman emeritus of Ebony Media Holdings, the parent of Ebony and Jet magazine brands.

Tesla has been under pressure for months from large investors, who encouraged the car company to add a couple of directors who don't have ties to Musk.

In April, the California State Teachers' Retirement System and four other investors wrote that directors at Tesla "should be held to a higher standard of independence given the conflicts of interest that permeate this board."

That letter, addressed to Tesla director Antonio Gracias and first reported by Bloomberg, also argued that "a thoroughly independent board would provide a critical check on possible dysfunctional group dynamics, such as groupthink."

Other Tesla directors are Elon's brother Kimbal Musk, a venture capitalist, restaurateur and environmentalist; Brad Buss, the former CFO of SolarCity; Robyn Denholm, a fomer CFO and COO of Juniper Networks; Ira Ehrenpreis, a general partner with Technology Partners; Antonio Gracias, CEO of investment firm Valor; Steve Jurvetson, managing director of giant venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson; and Elon Musk, who not only co-founded Tesla but also is CEO and CTO of SpaceX and chairman of SolarCity.  

Tesla shares dropped 3 percent on Monday to $319.57, giving the company a market cap of $52.5 billion.

"James and his wife, Kathryn Murdoch, are founders of a family foundation, Quadrivium, which supports initiatives involving natural resources, science, civic life, childhood health, and equal opportunity," Tesla said Monday.

As for Johnson, she has extensive board experience, including having been a director at Kimberly-Clark Corp., Quaker Oats and Bausch & Lomb. She's also on the boards of Grubhub, Omnicom and others.

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