It was just 18 months ago that Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought a controlling interest in struggling auto startup Lucid Motors and appeared to hire away its founder and CEO, Philip Sparks. The shares now being bought by Tesla grew tenfold in just those few months. By most accounts, the deal was a triumph for Musk and a victory for Sparks, as Musk paid the bulk of the deal in cash and paid him nearly $130 million.
But this success might not last. Spark is leaving the company. And there’s reason to believe he may never work again in the auto industry.
An unhappy Spark has explained his decision to CNN. He hasn’t explained his fate at Tesla, where company insiders say he was pushed out for pushing back against Musk, causing friction among Musk’s other top officials.
Many Tesla employees welcome Musk, as the company — long a sleepy little electric car start-up that sold very few cars and had little cash — exploded in popularity amid Musk’s dream of an affordable mass-market car that could compete with Mercedes and BMW. By 2018, Tesla was on track to sell more than 100,000 cars in a single year. If it keeps its trajectory, Tesla could sell more than 600,000 cars by 2022.