Crazy appearance in court: Elon Musk states that he doesn’t really want to be the boss anywhere
Investors in his companies accuse Elon Musk of paying too little attention to his many projects – and thus not being good as a boss. In court, Musk replies that he actually doesn’t want to be CEO anywhere.
US billionaire Elon Musk has been raging through the ranks of Twitter for two weeks. He pushes through reforms in a hurry, fires thousands of employees and causes chaos in front of and behind the scenes of the platform. All this takes time – and is typical of what is probably the most famous multitasker in the world. Always new projects, almost every week a new focus. But not everyone likes this activity – and that is the curse of a listed company. Musk is accountable to shareholders, who accuse him of neglecting his responsibilities where they put their money (read more here).
Elon Musk the cherry picker
In the United States, Musk therefore had to explain himself in court. As expected, his performance raised more questions than it provided answers. When asked how he sees his role as CEO and how he justifies his extraordinarily high bonus payments, he simply replied: “To be honest, I don’t want to be the CEO of any company.”
This was followed by a description of how he himself saw his role in his various companies. At the aerospace company SpaceX he is responsible for the technology of the rockets, at Tesla for the technology in the car, which in his opinion is largely responsible for the success of the brand.
The standard definition of a CEO therefore does not fit Musk, as it suggests being primarily business-focused. Perhaps that’s why Musk invented Tesla’s “Technoking” job title for himself — a CEO-like role but with a clear focus on the company’s technology. Asked by a lawyer if he was sober when creating the job title, Musk said answered with a questioning “Yeah?”
Twitter and Tesla to get new CEOs
Musk’s definition of his activities also means for Twitter that he wants to give up the baton after the roughest conversions and appoint a CEO for his new acquisition to take care of business.
Musk is pursuing a similar plan for Tesla, it is said. Musk did not mention this personally in court. The info comes from an interview with James Murdoch, a board member of the automaker. According to Murdoch, there is already a specific candidate for the position, but the person was not named. Older reports from 2018 say that the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch would appear to be a candidate for the job himself.
PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX
Elon Musk: His companies, his family – the richest person in the world in pictures
The negotiations also focus on a share package that Musk had been promised years ago. In 2018, he received a commitment that if the market value exceeded $650 billion, he would have the option to purchase up to $55 billion of preferred stock at a fraction of the price. Lead plaintiff and Tesla investor Richard Tornetta called it the “greatest settlement in human history.” Musk said he had no say in the precise definition of compensation.
Elon Musk needs to share his time – for the greater good
During the negotiation, he also made it clear that he would not devote his entire time to a single company. On the contrary, Musk said he pointed out during his compensation talks that he wasn’t sure it would help “the big picture” if he devotes his time disproportionately to the automaker. It sounded different on the part of Tesla, because the block of shares is said to have served precisely this purpose – as motivation.
At the time, however, all sides agreed that it could be difficult or impossible to achieve the ambitious goal. Tesla was in crisis and was far from the stock market value that the company should exceed under Musk.
But Musk did the impossible – and qualified for the promised compensation. Instead of protecting himself, however, he contradicted his own lawyers, who argued that Musk was “closely involved in all aspects of Tesla’s business, from strategic direction to product design,” as the rationale for the stock package.
At trial he said: “I’m not sure I would use the word narrow.”
Musk scolds the SEC and other companies
In the further course of the negotiation, it was again about Musk’s controversial tweets, insults to the SEC, which according to Musk were misunderstood, and the billionaire’s lack of understanding of how much one deals with Tesla and him – and how little attention is paid to it recently collapsed crypto marketplace FTX in return.
Musk’s compensation process is expected to be completed by the end of the week. However, a verdict is not expected for a few months, writes the New York Times. The judge responsible, Kathaleen McCormick Musk, is not particularly well-disposed, however, because a case involving the Tesla boss landed on her table back in the spring. At that time it was about withdrawing the Twitter deal after Musk had apparently reconsidered the purchase. Nothing came of it.