Elon Musk is putting the pressure on Tesla’s board to secure him another hefty stock award, a few years after he offloaded a significant portion of his shares to fund the acquisition of Twitter. In his candid posts on the matter, Musk indicated that without approximately 25% voting control at Tesla, he might redirect his focus toward developing artificial intelligence and robotics products elsewhere. Despite being Tesla’s largest shareholder with nearly a 13% stake, Musk sold close to $40 billion in stocks in 2022 for his Twitter venture.
Praise Amid Uncertainty
Amid this call for a new stock award, Musk took a moment to commend Tesla’s board in other social media posts. According to Musk, the board is awaiting a Delaware Chancery Court ruling before drafting a new compensation plan. The case, brought by a Tesla shareholder, alleges that the board failed to maintain independence from Musk when crafting his $55 billion performance award in 2018. Musk emphasized that the core issue revolves around securing the right amount of voting influence within Tesla.
Despite the timing being less than ideal, with Tesla facing challenges and Musk addressing concerns about his drug use following a Wall Street Journal report, Tesla’s shares experienced a modest 0.7% rise on Tuesday in New York trading.
A Rollercoaster for Musk and Tesla
The combination of previous awards to Musk and the financial impact of the Twitter acquisition marked a turning point, leading Musk to a unique milestone over a year ago—being the first person to wipe out $200 billion from their net worth. However, his fortunes rebounded in the past year, with Tesla’s shares doubling and the valuation of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. soaring. Musk now stands at the top of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with an estimated net worth of $206.1 billion.
From Car Manufacturer to AI Leader?
Musk’s recent assertion that he feels uneasy about steering Tesla towards leadership in AI and robotics comes as a surprise, especially considering his past claims that Tesla was at the forefront of these fields. Tesla has introduced products like Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, both driver-support features, and has even ventured into developing a humanoid robot named Optimus.
Last year, Musk announced the formation of xAI, a startup aiming to compete with industry players like Microsoft Corp.-backed OpenAI and Google’s DeepMind. While Musk initially insisted that xAI would complement Tesla’s AI efforts, industry observers, like Daniel Kollar of consultancy Intralink, express skepticism about Musk’s current behavior benefiting any of his companies. Despite the uncertainty, Musk’s unpredictability keeps the business world on its toes, wondering what move he’ll make next.