Late Sunday night, FreightWaves broke the story of Trevor Milton voluntarily stepping down from the Nikola Motor (NASDAQ:NKLA) board. A few hours later, Nikola Motor made the resignation official in a press release:
Nikola Corporation (NASDAQ: NKLA) today announced that Trevor Milton approached the Board of Directors and proposed to voluntarily step aside as Executive Chairman and from the Board. The Board accepted his proposal, and Stephen Girsky, former Vice Chairman of General Motors Co. and a member of Nikola’s Board, has been appointed Chairman of the Board, effective immediately.
“Nikola is truly in my blood and always will be, and the focus should be on the Company and its world-changing mission, not me,” said Milton. “So I made the difficult decision to approach the Board and volunteer to step aside as Executive Chairman. Founding Nikola and growing it into a company that will change transportation for the better and help protect our world’s climate has been an incredible honor.”
“As we move forward, I am confident Steve is the right leader to guide our vision at the Board level. In addition to being an early believer and supporter of Nikola, Steve has more than 30 years of experience working with OEM leaders, suppliers, dealers, labor leaders and national policy makers, and has served as a director of numerous public companies.”
Milton continued, “We’ve built a deep bench of talent over the years, and I am confident that Nikola’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Russell, supported by Chief Financial Officer, Kim Brady, and the rest of the leadership team will advance our goal of making Nikola the global leader in zero-emissions transportation. I want to thank all of Nikola’s employees, investors and partners who have shared in my vision and rallied behind Nikola during this time.”
Girsky said, “On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Trevor for his visionary leadership and significant contributions to Nikola since its founding. Trevor saw the possibility of creating an end-to-end zero-emission transportation system when the industry was still in its nascent stages and took action to build the Nikola of today, with world-class partnerships, groundbreaking R&D, and a revolutionary business model. I know I speak for everyone at Nikola in our gratitude and in wishing him all the best.”
“We remain committed to delivering on our objectives and creating value for our shareholders,” said Mark Russell, Nikola’s Chief Executive Officer. “Along with the rest of the management team, I will continue to work closely with Steve and the Board to advance Nikola’s vision for the future. Our priorities remain unchanged and, in collaboration with our partners, we are laser-focused on executing on our strategic initiatives and laying the groundwork to become a vertically integrated zero-emissions transportation solutions provider.”
Sources suggested that the reason Milton left the board was that he was often the source of public controversy around the company. By leaving the board, he was hoping to preserve the value of his Nikola stock, worth an estimated $2.8 billion.