Elon Musk gives Tesla ultimatum: Another 12% of shares or no AI, robotics

Key Takeaways:

– Elon Musk wants to gain more control over Tesla by owning 25% of the company.
– He believes that without this level of control, he would be uncomfortable growing Tesla to be a leader in AI and robotics.
– Musk has sold billions of dollars of Tesla shares in recent years but now wants to reverse that trend.
– He would like a dual-class voting structure similar to Facebook’s, which would give him more control, but this would be an illegal restructuring post-IPO.
– Tesla has released a demo of its latest robot iteration, showcasing its abilities in dancing and handling eggs.
– There are concerns about Musk’s drug problem, diversion of resources to his social media network, and split focus on SpaceX.
– Tesla’s stock has lost a quarter of its value in the last six months, and its profit margin has shrunk to the industry average.
– Musk’s previous compensation package is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit, with a shareholder claiming it is excessive and a breach of fiduciary duty.

Ars Technica:

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images/Aurich Lawson

Elon Musk says his ambitions to make Tesla more than just an automaker depend on him gaining far more control over the company. The controversial CEO took to his social media platform X to say that unless he is awarded another 12 percent of the company, which would give him ownership of 25 percent of Tesla, he would be “uncomfortable growing Tesla to be a leader in AI & robotics.”

Failing that, Musk said he would “prefer to build products outside of Tesla,” then questioned why large institutional investors in Tesla like Fidelity “don’t show up to work,” seemingly confused by the difference between an individual with a job and a company that owns assets.

For 2022—the last year for which full financial results are available—95 percent of Tesla’s revenues came from its automotive activities.

Musk, who took over control of Tesla from its founders Martin Eberhardt and Marc Tarpenning a year after it was founded in 2003, has sold billions of dollars of Tesla shares in the past few years but now appears to want to reverse that trend. “If I have 25% it means I am influential,” he wrote, “but can be overridden if twice as many shareholders vote against me versus for me.”

Musk then went on to say that he would like a dual-class voting structure similar to the one at Facebook that gives CEO Mark Zuckerberg control of that company but which would be an illegal restructuring post-IPO.

At several investor events in the past, Musk has shown demonstrations of Tesla robotics, first with what many took to be a human being in a robot suit but more latterly with robots that appear to be actual robots. Previously, the company’s main experience with robotics involved Musk’s claims that the Tesla production line would be an “alien dreadnought” which moved too fast for the human eye to see. This pronouncement, like many of Musk’s, did not come to pass—in 2018, he reversed his stance, saying that “Humans are underrated.”

But Tesla released a demo of its latest robot iteration last month, which it showed off dancing and handling eggs.

On X, Musk claimed that there was no rift between him and the Tesla board, but it’s likely that investors may not be quite as copacetic. A well-sourced report from The Wall Street Journal alleges that the CEO has a worrying drug problem. The company has lost a quarter of its value over the last six months, and its once-envied profit margin making cars has shrunk during successive quarters to the industry average.

Additionally, there are questions about Musk’s diversion of Tesla resources and staff to work on his social media network, plus his split focus on SpaceX. Musk’s previous $56 billion compensation package from Tesla is also the subject of an ongoing lawsuit in Delaware, brought by a shareholder who believes it to be excessive and a breach of fiduciary duty by Musk and his board. Other Tesla board members have to pay back $733 million to Tesla after another court case involving their own compensation by the automaker.

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AI Eclipse TLDR:

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has expressed his ambitions to make Tesla more than just an automaker, but he believes that this will depend on gaining more control over the company. Musk took to his social media platform X to state that unless he is awarded another 12 percent of the company, which would give him ownership of 25 percent of Tesla, he would be “uncomfortable growing Tesla to be a leader in AI & robotics.” He also questioned why large institutional investors in Tesla, like Fidelity, don’t show up to work, seemingly confused by the difference between an individual with a job and a company that owns assets.

Currently, 95 percent of Tesla’s revenues come from its automotive activities. Musk, who took over control of Tesla in 2004, has sold billions of dollars of Tesla shares in recent years but now appears to want to reverse that trend. He believes that having 25 percent ownership would make him influential, but he could still be overridden if twice as many shareholders vote against him.

Musk also expressed his desire for a dual-class voting structure similar to Facebook, which would give him more control over the company. However, this would be an illegal restructuring post-IPO.

Musk has previously showcased demonstrations of Tesla robotics at investor events, but the company’s main experience with robotics has been inconsistent. Musk’s previous claims that the Tesla production line would be an “alien dreadnought” did not come to pass, and he later expressed that “Humans are underrated.” Tesla recently released a demo of its latest robot iteration, showcasing its dancing and egg-handling capabilities.

While Musk claims there is no rift between him and the Tesla board, there are concerns from investors. A report from The Wall Street Journal alleges that Musk has a worrying drug problem. Tesla’s value has declined by a quarter over the past six months, and its once-envied profit margin has shrunk to the industry average. There are also questions about Musk’s diversion of Tesla resources and staff to work on his social media network, as well as his divided attention between Tesla and SpaceX.

Musk’s previous $56 billion compensation package from Tesla is currently the subject of an ongoing lawsuit in Delaware, brought by a shareholder who believes it is excessive and a breach of fiduciary duty by Musk and his board. Additionally, other Tesla board members have to pay back $733 million to the company following a court case involving their own compensation by the automaker.