Hubert Joly was a star recruit for Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2015, when Tesla needed somebody to turn around its struggling electronics division. Joly was chief executive at Home Depot from 2006 to 2013, when he signed a three-year, $21m severance package with a buyout that included a lump sum cash payment and a bonus that could be worth $1.4m if he was still at the company by 2016. He was also paid $175m for turning around the US home-improvement retailer and earned another $25m last year.
At Home Depot, he lived in a $24m mansion in Carlsbad, California, about 90 miles from Tesla’s Silicon Valley headquarters. His new office in Palo Alto, California, was simply a 10 by 12 room with a conference table he could call upon for casual meetings. “I would walk my dog at the Tesla facility and get back into my car and go home,” Joly says. “If someone is in the market for a Lamborghini I’m pretty sure they’re going to choose it over a Home Depot. It’s the highest quality products and at the same time it’s a great deal for the consumer.” Joly lives there now with his long-term partner, but he’s in this latest role for the money, he says. He’s also on good terms with Musk. “Mr Musk has his belief systems and everything, but we’re on the same page,” he says. And Joly, like Musk, loves pigeons. That, he says, is why he’s sharing quarters with the Tesla founder. Pigeons are called corporate travelers in the tech world. They are smart, they can get places fast, they don’t take crap from people and they have very short attention spans. “They don’t take too much time,” he says.