Tesla CFO Zach Kirkhorn Steps Down After 13 Years With the Company

The executive's departure is as abrupt as his appointment four years ago.

Tesla (TSLA) announced today (August 7) that CFO Zachery Kirkhorn has stepped down after four years in the position and thirteen years with the electric carmaker. He was succeeded by Vaibhav Taneja, Tesla’s chief accounting officer, as of August 4, the company reported in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the opening of the Gruenheide, Germany Tesla plant in 2022. Christian Marquardt - Pool/Getty Images

Kirkhorn’s departure is as abrupt as his appointment was four years ago. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Kirkhorn joined Tesla in 2010 as a senior analyst in the finance department. He rose through the ranks to finance director and was appointed CFO in 2019 at age 34, replacing his supervisor and Tesla’s longtime financial chief, Deepak Ahuja.

It was Kirkhorn’s first time serving as CFO of a public company. He’d previously worked at Microsoft and the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced Kirkhorn’s appointment on a quarterly earnings call in January of 2019, surprising analysts and sending company shares down 5 percent just minutes after.

But Tesla’s business began soaring soon. The cash-burning electric carmaker turned a profit for the first time in the second quarter of 2020 and has been consistently profitable under Musk’s and Kirkhorn’s leadership.

Kirkhorn also oversaw Tesla’s cryptocurrency investment. He added “Master of Coin” to his job title in early 2021, shortly after Tesla disclosed a $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin.

“During his tenure, Tesla has seen tremendous expansion and growth. Tesla thanks Mr. Kirkhorn for his significant contributions,” Tesla said in today’s filing, adding that Kirkhorn will remain with the company through the end of the year to support a smooth transition.

“Being a part of this company is a special experience and I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done together since I joined over 13 years ago,” Kirkhorn wrote in a LinkedIn post today. “I want to thank the talented, passionate, and hard-working employees at Tesla, who have accomplished things many thought not possible.”

Kirkhorn’s replacement, Taneja, 45, has been Tesla’s accounting chief since 2019. Previously, he served as the company’s corporate controller and assistant corporate controller. Before joining Tesla in 2017, Taneja was an accounting executive at SolarCity (acquired by Tesla in 2016) and PricewaterhouseCoopers in India and the U.S.

Tesla CFO Zach Kirkhorn Steps Down After 13 Years With the Company