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Murdoch heir is in and Peter Rive is out at Tesla

Elon Musk tweeted a photo of the first ever ‘affordable’ Model 3 to roll off Tesla’s production line earlier this month. US deliveries begin on 28 July. Image: Elon Musk / Twitter.

Australian media baron Rupert Murdoch’s son James is one of two new independent board directors at Tesla, while the EV, tech and energy storage maker confirmed that former SolarCity CTO Peter Rive is leaving the company.

A Tesla spokesperson emailed Energy-Storage.News today with confirmation of reports that Peter Rive, cousin of Elon Musk and brother of recently departed ex-SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive, will leave Tesla.

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The trio were among SolarCity’s co-founders, with the residential installer and leasing company cementing its close relationship with Tesla through a merger that amounted to an acquisition of SolarCity worth more than US$2.5 billion.

As CTO, Rive was thought to be behind many of SolarCity’s early moves into energy storage, once memorably writing a blog on how the company saw cooperation with utilities as the future, rather than viewing them as competition to the nascent solar-plus-storage industry. He was also partly responsible for development of the forthcoming Tesla solar roof tiles.

“We can confirm that Pete Rive will be leaving the company to explore new opportunities,” the statement read.

“As co-founder and CTO of SolarCity, Pete has played an instrumental role in expanding access to solar to hundreds of thousands of people across the country, helping to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

The spokesperson said Rive’s duties including work on the roof tiles would be distributed amongst Tesla’s existing engineering teams and added a public note of thanks to Rive for “everything he’s done for SolarCity and Tesla.”

Meanwhile, on 13 July, Tesla made a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing announcing the arrival of two new board members: James Rupert Murdoch and Linda Johnson-Rice, who is chief executive of the Johnson Publishing Company. Murdoch is CEO of his father’s 21st Century Fox media conglomerate, formerly News Corporation.

This expands the number of directors on the board to nine. Johnson-Rice and Murdoch are eligible for compensation for their duties, including an option to purchase 16,668 shares of Tesla stock, in line with standard compensation packages for outside directors at the company.

The appointments come after some shareholders reportedly pushed Tesla to recruit more independent directors to its board.

Rival Sonnen appoints new US VP of operations and quality control

In somewhat related news, Tesla’s energy storage and management rival Sonnen announced at the beginning of this week that it has hired a new vice president of operations and quality control for its US business.

Brent Stayer joins the company from Lutron Electronics, a manufacturer of dimmers and lighting controls. Stayer is experienced in engineering and leadership supervision as well as regulatory compliance and interpretation and also in testing and analytics at electronics laboratory environments, a Sonnen representative said. Sonnen has a newly built ‘InnovationHub’ in Georgia, and Brent Stayer will be charged with overseeing quality engineering, production and operations there.

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