Tesla adds James Murdoch and Linda Johnson Rice to its board

Tesla adds James Murdoch and Linda Johnson Rice to its board

Electric auto maker Tesla Inc. has named two new directors to its board, heading off criticism from some investors that its board members are too closely linked.

Joining the now nine member board are two media executives, Linda Johnson Rice - the CEO of Johnson Publishing Company as well as the CEO of Ebony Media Operations - and 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch.

At the time, the board consisted of Mr Musk, his brother Kimbal Musk, who is a director at Mr Musk's SpaceX firm, venture capitalist Ira Ehrenpreis, who is an investor in SpaceX, Steve Jurvetson, a director of SpaceX, Brad Buss, the former chief financial officer of a company bought by Tesla, and Robyn Denholm, the chief operating officer of Australian telecommunications firm Telstra.

Musk responded by first chiding these investors, which include the California State Teachers' Retirement System and CtW Investment Group, and then saying the company was already seeking independent board members.

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Tesla added two new independent directors to its board.

Mr. Murdoch is the son of Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of Fox and News Corp, publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this month, the company's investors approved all five of its proposals, including one that shot down a move to make its directors stand for re-election each year.

A group of influential investors called for the addition of independent board members back in April, criticizing Tesla's board for the conflict of interest posed by the close ties numerous members have with Musk. She has been active on other boards, including as a director for Omnicom Group Inc. since 2000 and GrubHub Inc. James claims an "instrumental" role in 21st Century Fox's "decade-long leadership on environmental sustainability" in his Tesla board member bio. In 2016, Johnson Publishing Company sold Ebony and Jet to Clear View Group (which formed Ebony Media Holdings), while retaining ownership of its Fashion Fair cosmetics brand and photography archives.