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Photo of Nikola's first semi truck Tre.
Photo of Nikola's first semi truck Tre.

Nikola founder resigns as chairman amid allegations, SEC probe

  • Trevor Milton, the social-media-savvy public face of the company he founded in 2014, was replaced by board member Stephen Girsky.

Nikola Corp., the embattled electric-vehicle startup that recently partnered with General Motors Co., said its founder stepped down as executive chairman effective immediately, removing a target of critics but clouding Nikola’s future direction.

Trevor Milton, the social-media-savvy public face of the company he founded in 2014, was replaced by board member Stephen Girsky, whose title will be chairman, the company said in a statement late Sunday.

The shakeup comes less than two weeks after the Phoenix-based company found itself in the crosshairs of a skeptical short seller that issued a highly critical report and whose claims are the subject of probes by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and, reportedly, the Department of Justice.

The company has faced a turbulent period in the aftermath of a short-lived share rally following GM’s surprise decision earlier this month to take a $2 billion stake in Nikola and manufacture its new pickup truck. The Detroit-based automaker got a cash-free 11% equity position in its smaller partner in a bid to scale and fast-track its own vehicle electrification efforts.

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