Joining Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) as an early employee in 2004, Jeffrey Brian “JB” Straubel managed to secure a place in the electric vehicle company’s founding five. Almost two decades later, Straubel has embodied a different path and his net worth reflects it.
Here’s where Straubel’s career and personal life are today, plus his estimated net worth as an official Tesla co-founder.
JB Straubel got his big break at Tesla.
Straubel joined Tesla as the company’s fifth employee in 2004. Five years later, a court order declared Straubel one of five official Tesla co-founders due to his early involvement in the company. (Tesla’s current CEO Elon Musk found the same fate as an early Tesla employee later deemed an official co-founder.)
Ultimately, Straubel stuck with Tesla until 2019, when he transitioned to a less-involved advisory role. His passion for EVs is obvious — even before joining Tesla, he built his own electric Porsche 944 and won a racing record in 2000.
JB Straubel founded Redwood Materials in a career pivot.
After leaving Tesla, Straubel used his spare time to grow Redwood Materials, a company he first founded in 2017. Redwood Materials is an e-waste and lithium-ion battery recycling company.
According to Crunchbase, Redwood Materials has raised $792 million in funding and has backers like Ford Motor Company (F), Goldman Sachs (GS), and Canada Pension Plan, among others.
JB Straubel’s late wife: What to know
Straubel married Bulgarian businesswoman Boryana Dineva in 2013. The pair had twins two years later and moved from California to Nevada in 2019 after Straubel left Tesla for Redwood Materials.
Boryana died on June 19, 2021 in a bicycling accident. She was killed in a rural area designated bike lane when a car crossed the double yellow line and hit her in a head-on collision. A former Tesla employee herself, Boryana had transitioned to a role at Wikimedia Foundation. The couple shared a passion for environmental sustainability and created the Straubel Foundation together in 2015. The nonprofit environmental organization lives on in Boryana’s legacy.
Jeffrey Brian "JB" Straubel
Tesla co-founder, Redwood Materials founder
Net worth: $1.3 billion (estimated)
JB Straubel is an official Tesla co-founder and the second-wealthiest reported co-founder of the five. Straubel's wife, Boryana, died in 2021 at just 38 years old from a head-on collision while riding her bicycle in a designated bike lane in rural Nevada.
- Education: Stanford University (BS in 1998, MS in 2000)
- Wife: Boryana Dineva Straubel (married in 2013, died in 2021)
- Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa
- Place of residence: Nevada
JB Straubel has a solid net worth as one of Tesla’s most successful founders.
Not all of Tesla’s founding five became billionaires. Obviously, the world’s richest man Musk is at the top, but Straubel is the second wealthiest of the bunch and is reported to be a billionaire. Straubel may still retain his $1.3 billion TSLA stake a few years after leaving the company, positing him as well beyond financially secure.
Despite recent tragedy, Straubel’s Redwood Materials continues to grow. The company has an estimated enterprise valuation of $3.8 billion as of September 2021.