Tesla Chairman Warns About Elon Musk

Tesla Chairman Warns About Elon Musk

Elon Musk

We’re just days away from Tesla’s shareholder meeting, where investors will vote on whether to approve CEO Elon Musk’s astronomical $56 billion pay package, which was thrown out by a judge in January, being reinstated.

And Tesla’s board is desperately trying to sway the vote to keep Musk from throwing a huge tantrum. First, the company tried to sweeten the deal by offering personal tours at Tesla hosted by Musk.



But after analysts at proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis recommended shareholders reject Musk’s exorbitant compensation plan, Tesla fired off a strongly-worded letter, accusing the firm of using “faulty logic.”

Now, in a letter registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla’s chair Robyn Denholm made an impassioned plea to encourage shareholders to give the second-richest man in the world — who has given them a laundry list of reasons to call for his dismissal — tens of billions of dollars in stock options.

“We are entering the final days before the polls close on one of the most important votes in the history of our extraordinary company,” Denholm, who resides in a $27.5 million penthouse in Sydney, Australia, wrote. “As Board Chair, I want you to hear directly from me on why it is so important that you ratify Elon’s 2018 Performance Award and vote to move Tesla’s corporate domicile to Texas.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Denholm had to dig deep to come up with reasons to award Musk — who has infamously spent much of his time at X-formerly-Twitter to shitpost and go on racist tirades while his carmaker atrophies — billions of dollars in shares doled out over several years.



The chair argued that it’s all about “retaining Elon’s attention and motivating him to focus on achieving astonishing growth for our company,” seemingly comparing him to a child who is close to throwing a fit if it isn’t given what it wants.

Unfortunately for Denholm and the company, that period of “astonishing growth” has long passed. Tesla has tanked under Musk’s leadership as of late, with Tesla posting abysmal sales figures this year. The mercurial CEO’s antics have also left a dark mark on the brand’s reputation, scaring away potential customers.

To Denholm, however, Musk should be given what he wants because “we all made a commitment to Elon.”

“This is obviously not about the money,” Denholm wrote. “We all know Elon is one of the wealthiest people on the planet, and he would remain so even if Tesla were to renege on the commitment we made in 2018.”

“Elon is not a typical executive, and Tesla is not a typical company,” she added. “So, the typical way in which companies compensate key executives is not going to drive results for Tesla.”



Denholm’s baffling letter leaves a glaring question: if it isn’t about the money, why is Tesla making this vote such a big deal? If Musk really didn’t care about adding $56 billion to his $208 billion net worth, why not just drop the whole thing? Why bring it up to a vote at all?

The chair’s arguably unconvincing arguments highlight just how distant the company’s board has grown from reality and the best interests of the shareholders it represents.

If there’s one certainty, it’s that next week’s shareholder vote will be a turbulent one. And the outcome may just define the future of what was once hailed as the “most important car company in the world.”

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