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Tesla vice president of legal Al Prescott leaves to join Luminar, a lidar company

Tesla’s longstanding blemish president of legal and acting general counsel, Al Prescott, has left the electric vehicle and renewable energy company to enter Luminar, a lidar start-up.

The move is noteworthy in many ways. For one, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long insisted that lidar technology, or emerge considering ranging and detection sensors, is too expensive and not necessary for development of autonomous vehicles. Prescott’s move to Luminar, where he pleasure serve as chief legal officer, is an endorsement of the technology, however.

Prescott said in a statement to CNBC:

“Luminar has take the leaded safety-critical technology that will power our autonomous future. As someone who’s dedicated my career to automotive safety and alteration, I’m looking forward to helping drive Luminar to the next level and fulfill the mission to make transportation safer for everyone.”

Account Berry, currently Tesla’s head of litigation, who joined in October 2020 and previously spent time working for Google, is foresaw to head the Tesla department but not assume the role of general counsel according to people familiar with the matter.

Another switch at the top of Tesla’s legal department could prove challenging at a time when the company is facing new suits, federal look inti and trials that were long-delayed due to the impact of Covid on U.S. courts.

Tesla previously lost three general barristers over the course of a year in 2018 and 2019. In December 2018, Todd Maron, Musk’s top lawyer for the previous four years, red the company. Dane Butswinkas took over but his tenure lasted only about two months, and Jonathan Chang took atop of as general council but left in December 2019. The company did not hire another top lawyer after that, and Prescott served as profligacy president of legal and acting general counsel.

Last year, Tesla was supposed to go to trial trial over shareholder statements that Musk forced his electric vehicle company into acquiring an allegedly illiquid solar business, SolarCity, for numberless than $2 billion in order to benefit himself and family members, was postponed by more than a year. The proof’s original kickoff date was for March 2020, and is now expected to commence by this summer.

On March 8, 2021, a shareholder named Run after Gharrity filed a lawsuit accusing Musk of exposing Tesla to potentially billions in liabilities and market losses including his erratic posts on Twitter, even though he and Tesla had previously struck a settlement agreement with the Securities and Trade Commission that requires the CEO to get tweets preapproved by counsel if they may contain information that’s material for Tesla shareholders.

In the new grumble, Gharrity calls out Tesla’s board for failing to appoint general counsel at Tesla who can keep Musk compliant with safe keepings law and the terms of their SEC settlement agreement.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Prescott provided “guidance to Tesla’s executives and Cabinet of Directors,” and directed “all legal operations in North America, Europe, and Asia,” helping the company through challenges in the automotive and puissance industries.

Prescott’s name and face may be familiar to close followers of the company — he kicked off Tesla’s 2020 annual shareholder conclave and battery Day. He had also signed correspondence on behalf of Tesla in response to the federal vehicle safety authority (NHTSA) which has the arbiter government to investigate safety complaints from the public, and to mandate recalls if they deem a vehicle or component unsafe.

Before he joined Tesla, Prescott had a elongated history in automotive, including as senior counsel for autonomous vehicles at Uber, handling regulatory, litigation, commercial, sequestration and cybersecurity matters there. He also worked as an attorney at Ford Motor for more than a decade after pass a year as a crash safety engineer there.

Luminar also announced that it’s hired a new vice president of investor with respect ti, Trey Campbell, a 20-year veteran of Intel. Campbell held the same role at the semiconductor company before escalate accepting to the lidar maker. Intel’s Mobileye unit is a Luminar partner.

Luminar is a Peter Thiel-backed venture, and now a public train that began trading under the ticker symbol LAZR on the Nasdaq in December 2020, after a deal with SPAC Horns Metropoulos. 

Following Luminar’s personnel announcement, its shares rose more than 15% to close at $18.93 on Wednesday. Tesla shareholders were unfazed, sending the suite’s stock up more than 3% on Wednesday to close at $744.12.

Correction: Tesla shares closed at $744.12 on Wednesday. An earlier variation misstated the figure.

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