If James Murdoch is the new president of Tesla, that is bad news for Elon Musk

Ladies and gentlemen, we have plate drama in Tesla! I life.

I'm going to read some tea leaves, because James Murdoch seldom speaks on the album. Last week, The New York Times indicated that "some directors" thought that Murdoch could do a very good job as the new president of the Tesla board, as Elon Musk is forced by the SEC to resign.

I bet $ 420 that James Murdoch is one of the directors who think that James Murdoch is the forerunner based on one sentence that has one very likely source: "But Mr. Murdoch did not register for the job nor did he discuss it with another director. "Here is the part of the tea leaf: only Murdoch knows if he had that discussion or not, even a confidant or an assistant could not speak categorically with all his conversations, you need a clause that says" to the best of the source ". That is possible NYT spoke with all different directors to write that sentence, but I have a reason to think that is not true: the absence of a sentence that reads: "Murdoch declined to comment." This suggests Murdoch's comment – only not on the report.

This week, The Financial Times follows the fact that yes, James Murdoch is in fact a frontrunner:

Two people who were informed about the talks said that Mr Murdoch, who is currently a non-executive director of Tesla, was the main candidate for the position, as required by the SEC as independent chairman. Another person said that external options are still being considered.

Probably it is worth noting that Murdoch has referred the remark to Tesla, so he is probably not one of the two people who are leaking FT that he is the main candidate. Frankly, at this point he does not have to do it! He has already told it NYT!

What really stands out here, however, is in this graph:

It is also known that Mr Musk favors Antonio Gracias, the leading independent director of Tesla, but has been told that Mr Gracias may not be sufficiently independent because of his long-standing involvement in Mr Musk's businesses. The company of Mr. Gracias, Valor Equity Partners, invested in Tesla in 2005 and sold its shares in the IPO of the company in 2010. He also invested in SpaceX, the rocket activity of Musk.

Interesting. Musk responded to one FT tweet that linked the article, simply put: "This is incorrect." Not me all the way are you sure what the antecedent of the "this" is in the tweet – that Murdoch is the leader? That Musk gracias favors? Everything? – but I also know that if there is a call out in the boardroom, and it seems that there is talk, it is in the interest of the whole company to deny it. Indeed, Musk is known to deny things that are right to troll people, so who knows if something of this is "incorrect".

Both Gracias and Murdoch are reportedly friends with Musk. So why would Musk prefer Gracias for Murdoch?

The first private equity firm of Gracias failed after four years. His next, Valor Equity – created in 2001 thanks to a few sweet, sweet government loans – first dealt with creams for wrinkle creams, rope factories and makers of plastic payment cards, according to the FT. In 2005, Gracias invested in Tesla, and redeemed it when the car manufacturer became public in 2010; he also invested in SpaceX, the rocket company of Musk and possibly in SolarCity, the solar panel company that Tesla bought in 2016. He was also involved in Musk's Boring Company deal with the city of Chicago, as a prominent donor to Rahm Emanuel.

So he is deep in Musk and he owes Musk a lot. Those two things can allow Musk to retain more control than he would with Murdoch.

Murdoch is the second son of Rupert Murdoch, the media magnate who is best known for the sloppy tabloid kingdom that includes Fox News in the US and in the UK, among other things, the printing of real uncensored tits in his papers. Like many people in the media, I have seen it is a critical issue of survival to keep a close eye on what the Murdochs are planning, because they have a tendency to make Kool-Aid Man a publication and Murdoch the joint up: new (often Australian) editors, shorter articles, punchier headlines, more photos. Oh yeah! Shortly after I got my first full-time job in journalism, News Corp did a huge unsolicited bid The Wall Street Journal and in essence, the Bancroft family clown to give up the papers. (James was heavily involved, according to Michael Wolff & # 39; s The man who owns the news, a biography of James & # 39; father.)

James Murdoch, a Harvard drop-out, started out with a record label, Rawkus Records (the line-up consisted of Pharoahe Monch, Mos Def and Talib Kweli); it was taken over by his father's company in 1996, with Murdoch at the age of 24 the music and internet companies at News Corp. At the age of 27 he was sent to Asia, where he revived a television service in Hong Kong; At the age of 30 he became CEO of BSkyB. He took over as CEO of 21st Century Fox in 2015, but he will not stay with the company if the acquisition is completed by Disney.

Murdoch has mostly gone from success to success, with one exception: the scandal around telephone hacking. Murdoch stepped down as CEO of BSkyB in 2007 to take on the role of the mother ship, News Corp., as executive chairman of News International (that is, the British section of News Corp.). It was under his direction that the telephone scandal scandal became public. Actually, reporters had used the standard PINs to get into people's voicemail, mostly celebrities & # 39 ;. No one cared until it came out The news of the world used the standard pin on the phone from Milly Dowler, who was kidnapped and killed in 2002. In 2011, Murdoch closed the newspaper and testified before the parliament about an arrangement he had approved. It is still unclear how much he knew.

Frankly, I doubt that Musk is especially disgusted about Murdoch's role in the telephone hacking scandal. What I am guessing is doing Making him nervous is Murdoch's reputation as a defensive artist. Murdoch is more adept in the media than Musk – except that Murdoch prefers to remain off-record. He is, together with his brother Lachlan, the most likely primary source for a large part of Gabriel Sherman The loudest voice in the room, a 2014 biography of Fox News founder and Nixonian filthy cheater Roger Ailes. The book was not enough to get Ailes out of the picture, but a bad word about sexual harassment at Fox News. Murdoch also lost Bill O & # 39; Reilly in the process.

Gracias is obligated to Musk; Murdoch has his own ambitions. And if Murdoch thinks that the behavior of Musk – on Twitter or otherwise – is not in line, Chairman Murdoch could theoretically sufficiently convince the board to fire Musk.

Musk was previously dismissed as CEO: from the company that became PayPal. According to The PayPal wars by Eric M. Jackson, Musk was in part dethroned because he wanted to relinquish the PayPal brand in favor of X, the original name of his startup – and move customers to a new platform in the process. Jackson's take is both poorly written and self-perpetuating, but his assessment (branding problems, poor technical infrastructure) was repeated by other sources in Ashlee Vance's Musk biography. "I think it would have killed the company if Elon stayed behind for six months as CEO", said Roelof Botha, former CFO of PayPal, to Vance.

The job of a corporate board is to act on behalf of the shareholders, and shareholders seem to think that they may not be super happy with Musk at the moment? Liiiiiiike, shares of Tesla started the year on January 2 at $ 320. They closed at $ 252 on Thursday. Apart from the production problems, the delivery problems and retention problems, there is the problem Elon Musk. The derivation of the "go private" tweets in August is part of what put Murdoch in the position to be the chairman in the first place; the SEC arrangement requires Musk to leave the chairman's chair. And the settlement is for … fraud with securities – which is probably not an unimportant issue for investors. (Indeed, many complain about it.)

The other things – smoking weed and whiskey on the Joe Rogan show, the feud of Azealia Banks, the reproach of a British cave diver – are the things that you can probably ignore. Like, yes, it's disturbing, but it's … look, it's Elon Musk. Rare shit is part of the package (Remember the McLaren?). But when the weird shit causes the company to pay a $ 20 million fine to settle a case of securities fraud, a DOJ investigation, and lawsuits against shareholders … that's the sort of thing that a board should take seriously take. It is undoubtedly the reason why the SEC scheme requires more independent board members and a new chair in the first place! It is a pretty strong indication that the SEC thinks that the board as it currently exists is not powerful enough to act in the interest of the shareholders!

About the only person on the board who is fed up with a ruthless bastard to keep Elon Musk in check – or to dismiss him, when it comes down to it – is James Murdoch. Musk knows that too. If Musk Murdoch really wants to be too clever, he can better leave the plan of Gracias and choose a new independent board member to serve as a chair. Because when Murdoch takes the board, part of his duties include succession planning for senior executives. That is probably not good news for Musk.