Elon Musk is a household name in America, but with fame and status also comes controversy. Musk certainly has as many detractors as supporters, but there’s no denying his impact on electric vehicle adoption. As an early pioneer of the EV, he’s driven Tesla to be the most valuable automaker in the world, but would the California automaker straight-up die without him? He seems to think so.
In a statement during a trial in Wilmington, Delaware in defense of Tesla’s 2016 acquisition of SolarCity, Musk insisted that he doesn’t have total control over Tesla’s board, reports Reuters. He also claimed that, while the CEO position is one he doesn’t necessarily want, he must maintain the position or “frankly Tesla is going to die.”
The American billionaire insists that it was the board who independently decided to buy out SolarCity for $2.6 billion with support from 85 percent of shareholders, and that he did not pressure the group to act one way or another. It’s worth noting that SolarCity was founded by Musk’s cousins, and that Musk was the chairman of both Tesla and SolarCity at the time, and his brother Kimbal also sat on the board of Tesla as well.
The plaintiffs argue that the buyout was actually a bailout, and that Musk and others allegedly benefitted from it “at the expense of Tesla and its minority stockholders.” Musk argues that he made no money from the deal.
“Since it was a stock-for-stock transaction and I owned almost exactly the same percentage of both [22 percent], there was no financial gain,” Musk continued to state that he does not control the appointment, removal, or compensation of board members, painting a picture where he has minimal influence over their decisions, according to the report.
If Musk loses the trial, he will be forced to pay up to $2.6 billion in damages, but ultimately the financial hit will be up to the judge. His statements relating to his leadership of Tesla were an interesting footnote, though.
“I rather hate [being CEO],” Musk said. ” I would much prefer to spend my time on design and engineering, which is what intrinsically I like doing.”
Musk says that while he has a strong distaste for being Tesla’s chief executive and the company would fail if he didn’t hold the position, he much prefers his “Technoking” duties.
The trial will run until July 23, 2021. By the end of it, Musk will certainly have more to say about his leadership of Tesla, and we’ll find out if the billionaire will be financially liable for damages.
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