Home » World News » Elon Musk's former right-hand man, JB Straubel, explains why — and how — he's chasing big money in recycling old EV batteries
Elon Musk's former right-hand man, JB Straubel, explains why — and how — he's chasing big money in recycling old EV batteries
JB Straubel stepped down as Tesla's CTO in 2019.
He's now focused on Redwood Materials, where he has the CEO title for the first time.
Redwood is a recycling startup that wants to create a "remanufacturing economy," extracting the valuable raw materials from spent electric-car batteries so that lithium, cobalt, and other valuable minerals don't have to be mined at great expense.
"I'm having a blast building the team and scaling our technology," said Straubel.
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When JB Straubel announced last year that he was leaving Tesla, investors put forth a chorus of concern. Employee No. 5 had been with the automaker since 2004, when pretty much nobody had heard of the electric-car startup, or of Elon Musk.
Musk and Tesla are now of course household names. The CEO deserves much of the credit: He hasn't just been ahead of the curve with the 17-year-old electric carmaker. He has been the curve, envisioning the future of transportation and charting the path to get there.
But on Tesla's ascent, the company's true tech whiz kid was Jeffrey Brian "JB" Straubel. Hired as an engineer, he took on the unofficial job of drawing the curve that Musk saw in his head. Of creating the cars, powertrains, batteries, storage systems, and even entire factories that fueled the expansion of Tesla's operations and ambitions.
Straubel is a low-key presence, but whenever his voice emerged during one of Tesla's quarterly earnings calls with Wall Street analysts, experienced listeners paid extra attention. Straubel spent every day in the trenches, building the world's first viable all-electric carmaker. And he was very good at it.
Then, he decided to leave. Not to launch a rival to Tesla, as other former Musk allies have done, but to build a company that could help realize Musk's dream of obliterating the gas-powered car — and make a fair bit of money while doing it.
A new challenge, and a vision, for a better future