For five quarters in a row ahead of Wednesday earnings, free cash flow has been negative at Tesla, and the electric-car maker has been burning through more than $6,500 every minute, according to data compiled by Bloomberg this week.
What's more, executives, including on the financial department, are coming and going.
Yet this isn't the first time Tesla has had to survive some pretty harsh financial woes. And no one knows that better than Deepak Ahuja. The CFO joined Tesla in July 2008. Two months later the global economy crashed. Challenged with managing Tesla's balance sheet through the 2008 crisis, Ahuja saw Tesla through its hugely successful IPO just two years later. Shares of the company continued on their upward trajectory, and in 2015 Ahuja retired somewhat of a hero.
Now he's back to reclaim his hero status as a cash-manager, having retaken the CFO post in February 2017 after Jason Wheeler left the company.
Ahuja's task will be difficult, and there probably will be speed bumps. Tesla continues to burn through cash at an alarming rate and could run out of money before year-end, according to the most bearish analyst reports. Last year the company raised more than $1 billion in equity and later offered almost $2 billion in a junk-debt issue. In late March, Moody's downgraded Tesla credit and changed the outlook to "negative" from "stable."
In its Wednesday earnings report for the first quarter, even though cash flow remained negative, Tesla reported a slower cash burn rate and losses that were narrower than expected. Revenue rose to $3.41 billion, outpacing analysts estimates of $3.22 billion, but it continues to spend heavily to meet production goals. Tesla ended the first quarter with a cash balance of $2.7 billion, down from $3.4 billion the previous time it reported.