Earlier this year, five investment groups, representing a number of investors, sent a letter to Tesla calling for a shake-up of the board amid criticism chief executive Elon Musk had ties to too numerous directors.
That letter, addressed to Tesla director Antonio Gracias and first reported by Bloomberg, also argued that "a thoroughly independent board would provide a critical check on possible dysfunctional group dynamics, such as groupthink". Among the changes, the investors requested Tesla recruit two new directors that don't have prior personal or professional ties with Mr. Musk.
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. Musk said on Twitter shortly after that he was planning to add two new board members and that the board expansion had nothing to do with the letter from the pension funds.
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.
The new board members are very interesting additions - James Murdoch is the younger son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the driving force behind News Corp's media empire, which includes prominent newspapers like the Wall Street Journal.
Linda Johnson Rice, who heads Ebony Magazine publisher Johnson Publishing Co, was the other director named to the board.
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. 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.
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