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Tesla Chair: Musk’s Compensation Package ‘Not About Money’


Elon Musk has been the face of Tesla for two decades as an investor and CEO — but if shareholders don’t approve his multi-billion dollar compensation package next week, things could change.

Robyn Denholm, chairperson of Tesla’s board, sent stockholders a letter on Wednesday urging them to approve Musk’s proposed $56 billion pay at the company’s annual meeting on June 13.

The compensation package, which could be the highest in U.S. corporate history, was “obviously not about the money,” Denholm wrote.

Related: Tesla to Shareholders: Approve CEO Musk’s Record-High Pay

Instead, Denholm framed the issue as a way to incentivize Musk to keep focusing on Tesla.

“If Tesla is to retain Elon’s attention and motivate him to continue to devote his time, energy, ambition and vision to deliver comparable results in the future, we must stand by our deal,” Denholm wrote.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photo by Christian Marquardt – Pool/Getty Images

Musk’s pay package was first approved by shareholders in 2018 and hinged on Musk leading Tesla to achieve a series of revenue, market cap, and operational milestones.

One goal, for example, was increasing Tesla’s market cap by almost $600 billion.

Related: Elon Musk: Tesla Robotaxi Is Arriving in August

Musk hit the targets and might have received his reward earlier this year — but there was a legal issue. A Delaware judge overturned the pay package in January, calling it “an unfathomable sum” and wrote that “the proxy statement inaccurately described key directors as independent and misleadingly omitted details about the process.”

Now Tesla is trying to move its legal home from Delaware to Texas and asking shareholders to approve Musk’s pay again.

The two matters will be up for vote at Tesla’s annual meeting.

The suggested pay would put Musk well ahead of other CEOs. A Monday study from the Associated Press showed that the highest-paid CEO of a public S&P 500 last year was Broadcom’s Hock E. Tan.

Related: How Much Are CEOs Paid? Highest Chief Executive Pay Packages

Tan’s compensation last year, including base salary, bonuses, and stock awards, was worth about $162 million.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was third on the list with an overall compensation of $63 million and Netflix CEO Theodore A. Sarandos was fifth, earning nearly $50 million.

Musk also owns X, formerly Twitter, and leads SpaceX, Neuralink, and the Boring Company.



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