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James Murdoch, Linda Johnson Rice Join Tesla Board of Directors

Variety logo Variety 7/17/2017 Todd Spangler
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Tesla, the electric-car company headed by billionaire Elon Musk, on Monday named two new members to its board: 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch and Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Co.

The move comes after Telsa, founded in 2003, has been the target of investor criticism for lacking independent directors on its board.

Tesla’s seven existing board members are: Elon Musk; Brad Buss, former CFO of SolarCity (which Tesla acquired last fall); Steve Jurvetson, managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson (an early investor in Tesla); Antonio Gracias, CEO of Valor (the first institutional investor in Tesla); Kimbal Musk (Elon’s brother); Ira Ehrenpreis, general partner with Technology Partners (an investor in Elon Musk’s SpaceX); and Robyn Denholm, EVP at Juniper Networks.

In its proxy statement filed in April, Tesla said that “with the exception of Elon Musk and Kimbal Musk, all of (Tesla’s) current members are ‘independent directors’ as that term is defined in the listing standards of NASDAQ.”

James Murdoch, son of media titan Rupert Murdoch, was named CEO of 21st Century Fox in 2015. He previously was the conglomerate’s co-COO, chairman and CEO for Europe and Asia, as well as chairman of BSkyB, Sky Deutschland, and Sky Italia, the businesses that now comprise Sky plc.

In announcing Murdoch’s appointment to the Tesla board, the company called out his “decade-long leadership on environmental sustainability,” noting that he and his wife, Kathryn Murdoch, are founders of a family foundation, Quadrivium, that supports initiatives involving natural resources, science, civic life, childhood health, and equal opportunity.

Johnson Rice, in addition to her role as chairman and CEO of JPC and Fashion Fair Cosmetics, is CEO of Ebony Media Operations and chairman emeritus of Ebony Media Holdings, the parent company for the Ebony and Jet brands. She has previously served on the boards companies including Bausch & Lomb, Continental Bank, Quaker Oats, Dial Corporation, MoneyGram and Kimberly-Clark. Johnson Rice currently serves on the boards of Omnicom Group and Grubhub.

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