Tesla is sourcing talent from a “hardcore” industry to boost its business, CEO Elon Musk revealed on Tuesday. The electric car company announced this week that 46-year-old Dave Morton, who worked at Seagate Technology since 1995, has joined the company as its chief accounting officer. Musk described Morton on his Twitter page as having a “great background.”
Morton served in a number of leadership roles at Seagate, which along with Western Digital and Toshiba dominates the hard drive space. Most recently, Morton was executive vice president and chief financial officer for the firm. It’s a cutthroat industry, shipping nearly 400 million units last year where failure could mean catastrophic data losses. Consumers have moved to solid-state storage for PCs and smartphones, pressing Seagate’s margins down to around 30 percent last year, but hard drives are king in data centers and other areas where physical size and speed are secondary to price and storage size.
These millions of hard drives require finely-tuned performance. Scott Mueller noted in a 2013 book on PC repairs that if the hard drive head that reads the disk was the same size as a skyscraper, it would move across the disk about 0.2 inches off the ground at a speed of 17.8 million mph, reading bits of data 0.85 inches apart. This skyscraper-sized head would circle the Earth once every five seconds. In short, Morton knows precision.
Tesla worked hard to secure the replacement to Eric Branderiz, who left for personal reasons in March. Bloomberg reports that Morton will receive a salary of $350,000 and a $10 million new hire equity grant vesting over four years. In his new role, he will report to Tesla chief financial officer Deepak Ahuja and oversee financials reporting, accounting, payroll, tax and other areas.
The company is set to report its quarterly earnings at 2:30 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday, during which it will likely provide more details about Tesla Model 3 production and plans to expand its fine-tuned assembly lines past a rate of 5,000 cars per week.
It’s set to be a big earnings call. In the May meeting, Musk made headlines when he dismissed analyst questions as “boring.”