By Ross Kerber
(Reuters) – Well-known Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Inc investor Ross Gerber said on Friday he plans to notify the electric carmaker that he will run for its board of directors, citing problems with its public relations, customer service and succession planning.
Gerber said in a telephone interview with Reuters that he aims to be considered a “friendly activist” by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, but that the company needs more guidance to handle challenges including growing competition.
“Tesla has let Elon be the voice of Tesla forever. Tesla doesn’t do any organized marketing, any outreach with the media or any lobbying and it’s led to a tremendous amount of FUD,” or fear, uncertainty and doubt, Gerber said.
Gerber is CEO of a California wealth-management firm with only about 440,000 shares of Tesla. But he noted KoGuan Leo, Tesla’s third-largest shareholder, has Tweeted support for the candidacy.
A longtime Tesla bull, Gerber says he is so frequently quoted by journalists he has become the de facto voice for the company that famously shut down its own public-relations department.
“Instead of me spending a day doing 14 interviews with reporters around the world, Tesla should have someone doing that. And if I’m going to do that, I should be a representative of the company,” Gerber said.
Gerber said he plans to notify Tesla next week of his intent to run for its eight-member board at its annual meeting in May, and said he expects Tesla will accept him as a candidate.
Gerber’s intention to run for the board was previously reported by Bloomberg News.