George Blankenship has left Tesla Motors. His Linked In page now lists his new role as “Director of Smiles For the Blankenship Family.” The San Jose Mercury News and other media broke the story. At the time of this Torque News Story publication Tesla had not announced the departure.
Blankenship’s hire in 2010 by Tesla was considered a big deal. Having worked at Apple, a company that is often compared to Tesla, he brought a gravitas to the company it needed. At the time Tesla had only built about 1,000 kit cars using donor Lotus Elise bodies and a hand built drivetrain. However, Tesla aspired to much more, and has since achieved much more.
George Blankenship was the Vice President of Sales and Ownership Experience. At Apple he was the force behind the innovative Apple Stores, which sell direct to consumers, much as Tesla’s stores are now doing. Prior to Apple Blankenship was a store manager who worked his way up at the Gap. He was at the Gap for 20 years and one of his achievements was the opening of up to 250 stores per year at one point. Clearly Blankenship was brought to Tesla to create the Tesla Stores and he succeeded.
The Tesla Website’s Executives section says of Blankenship “At Tesla, George's goal is to re-imagine the way people buy cars, forgoing the traditional dealership model in favor of stylish, consumer-focused showrooms. In his free time, he enjoys photography, golf, snowboarding, travel and spending time with his family.”
That last part is now apparently his main priority if news of his departure is accurate. “Spending more time with the family” is code for “Just fired and no new job yet” in most of American professional work. If Blankenship was fired by Tesla the reason is a complete mystery. The car has just been awarded the highest score ever by Consumer Reports for Customer Satisfaction. Since Blankenship’s job was “ownership experience”, it is hard to image him doing a better job as measured by an outside group.
Once Tesla makes an official announcement we will update this story with additional facts. If Blankenship has left it would leave room for Tesla to bring in a woman to help add perspective to the current all-male management and directorship at the company. Torque News recently ran a story pointing out that the company has not a single woman on its management or directorship staff. Do you think adding a female to the team would benefit the automaker? Comment below and add your perspective.
Still image and video courtesy of Youtube.com and Brand Insider