The Battle of Wits: Elon Musk vs. CalPERS Over a $56 Billion Pay Package

  • 🚀 Elon Musk criticized a shareholder group opposing his $56 billion pay package despite benefiting significantly from Tesla’s stock increase.
  • 📈 CalPERS, a significant Tesla shareholder, saw their investment grow from $40 million to roughly $500 million since 2018.
  • 🗳️ CalPERS now holds approximately $1.7 billion worth of Tesla shares but remains against Musk’s pay package.
  • 🏦 CalPERS owned 183,343 Tesla shares in 2018 when shares traded at $14.90.
  • 🤝 Musk accused CalPERS of breaking their agreement and lacking honor.
  • 🏛️ Legal challenges: A Delaware Chancery Court judge recently rejected Musk’s pay package.
  • 🏭 Potential relocation: Tesla might change its state of incorporation from Delaware to Texas.
  • 🔒 Musk’s compensation is a major topic for the upcoming Tesla Shareholder Meeting, with varied opinions.
  • 🏗️ Efforts to secure approval: Tesla is actively trying to ensure Musk’s $56 billion pay package gets approved, using various strategies including potential exclusive events.

Elon Musk, the dynamic and often controversial CEO of Tesla, has recently found himself at odds with one of his significant shareholders, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). The source of this contention? A jaw-dropping $56 billion pay package. Despite seeing astronomical returns on their Tesla investment, CalPERS opposes this hefty compensation plan. This blog delves into this complicated issue, examining the stakes and offering insights into the broader implications for shareholders and the company.

Background: Musk’s Giant Pay Package

Since Musk’s meteoric rise with Tesla, he’s been no stranger to eye-catching compensation packages. The $56 billion plan approved by shareholders in 2018 has become the flashpoint for the recent dispute. This package was designed to reward Musk for reaching a series of milestones aimed at catapulting Tesla into new heights. Given Tesla’s exponential stock growth since then, it’s no wonder this issue has captured immense attention.

Musk’s Compensation Plan Key Points:

  1. Performance-Based: The $56 billion is contingent on hitting certain operational and stock price milestones.
  2. Shareholder Approval: Originally received shareholder backing in 2018.

The Rise of Tesla Stock

CalPERS’ Investment Boom:

  • Initial Stake: In 2018, CalPERS held 183,343 shares of Tesla at $14.90 each.
  • Current Value: This investment grew from $40 million to roughly $500 million. Today, CalPERS owns approximately 6.7 million shares, valued at about $1.7 billion.

The Dispute: Musk vs. CalPERS

Despite the soaring returns, CalPERS is opposing Musk’s pay package. The contention arose when a Delaware Chancery Court judge recently denied the pay plan, triggering a tidal wave of controversy.

Major Arguments:

  • Musk’s Criticism: Musk accuses CalPERS of breaking their agreement and dishonoring their commitments.
  • CalPERS’ Stance: They are wary of excessive executive compensation and are exercising fiduciary responsibility to object based on principle.

Legal and Financial Implications

Court Rejection:

  • The Delaware Chancery Court judge rejected Musk’s pay package earlier this year, adding another layer of complexity. This ruling has prompted Tesla to consider reincorporating in Texas.

Relocation Discussions:

  • From Delaware to Texas? Tesla’s potential move might reshape its corporate governance, given Texas’s different legal landscape.

Shareholder Meeting: The Battle Continues

The Tesla Shareholder Meeting is set to be a hotbed of debate, with stakeholders divided over Musk’s pay.


  • Supporters: Believe Musk’s leadership merits the compensation, emphasizing his role in Tesla’s success.
  • Opponents: View it as excessive and advocate for stronger checks on executive pay.

Securing Approval: Tesla’s Game Plan

To ensure Musk receives his compensation, Tesla is leaving no stone unturned. From potential factory tours to tête-à-têtes with key designers, every strategy is on the table to sway shareholders.

Strategies to Influence Shareholders:

  • Exclusive Events: Organizing factory tours led by Musk and Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen.
  • Communication Campaigns: Persuasive efforts to remind shareholders of the 2018 approval and Musk’s achievements.

Conclusion: What Lies Ahead?

The battle over Musk’s $56 billion pay package is more than just a headline-grabber. It highlights broader issues concerning corporate governance, executive compensation, and shareholder rights. As the upcoming Shareholder Meeting looms, the decision will likely influence Tesla’s future strategies and corporate policies. Stay tuned, as this saga promises to unfold more twists and turns in the coming months.

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