Elon Musk arrives at court in Wilmington, Delaware, United States, November 16, 2022 (AFP/Oliver Contreras)
Elon Musk dragged himself out of the turmoil at Twitter for a few hours on Wednesday to defend in court the huge compensation plan Tesla gave him in 2018, saying the electric vehicle maker’s success at the time was far from certain. be guaranteed.
As factory production struggled to ramp up, “my time was almost entirely dedicated to Tesla,” he said during his hearing in a Delaware court.
“The probability of survival (of the group) was extremely low”, recalled the multi-entrepreneur who regularly tells that the manufacturer was in 2018 very close to bankruptcy.
Elon Musk is being sued, alongside Tesla and certain members of the board of directors, by a shareholder who accuses them of having improperly authorized in 2018 “the largest compensation plan ever awarded to an executive”.
His entry was made discreetly: a black Tesla parked at the back of the enclosure, directly in a tent set up for the occasion.
In a black suit and tie, he answered questions for about two and a half hours.
He was supposed to speak in this same room during a lawsuit opposing him to Twitter, before he decided to honor his commitment and pay 44 billion dollars to buy the social network at the end of October.
It has since been under heavy pressure, between the dismissal of more than half of the employees, the flight of advertisers, warnings from various authorities and the confused launch of new products.
Once the frenzy of the beginnings passed, “I think I will reduce the time I spend on Twitter and find someone else to lead” the company, underlined Elon Musk. A “fundamental restructuring of the organization” will “probably” be completed this week, he added.
– 56 billion –
The compensation plan in question on Wednesday calls for paying Elon Musk Tesla shares based on the achievement of several ten-year goals. It was estimated when it was adopted at $56 billion. Enough to fuel his fortune and help him rise to the rank of the richest man in the world.
The Leonard L. Williams Justice Center in Wilmington, Delaware, where Elon Musk is heard on November 16, 2022 (AFP/Oliver Contreras)
According to the plaintiff, Richard Tornetta, Elon Musk dictated his terms to directors who, given their relationship with the iconic entrepreneur or their personal interests, were not independent enough to oppose it. And this while he did not even work full time for Tesla insofar as he is also at the head of the space company SpaceX and the start-ups Neuralink and The Boring Company.
Richard Tornetta, who also believes that Tesla shareholders did not have all the relevant information when they approved the plan, is calling for its cancellation.
The trial, without a jury, began Monday and will continue until Friday. Several former and current board members testified, including Ira Ehrenpreis on Monday, Robyn Denholm on Tuesday, as well as Antonio Gracias and James Murdoch, the son of media magnate Rupert Murdoch, on Wednesday.
The purpose of the plan was to induce Elon Musk to “focus on Tesla’s goals”, said Antonio Gracias. Nothing obliges him to devote a minimum time to the company but the businessman “does not invoice by the hour”, he noted, stressing that in view of the explosion of the Tesla’s stock market value since 2018, the plan worked and shareholders were amply rewarded.
Elon Musk on March 22, 2022 in the tesla giga-factory in Gruenheide, near Berlin (Germany) (POOL/AFP/Archives/Patrick Pleul)
As for the objectives to be achieved, James Murdoch recalled having been “struck by their ambition”.
Elon Musk said he was not involved in developing the plan, although documents shown at the hearing suggest he discussed it with board members and executives.
The plaintiff’s attorney asked him about governance at Tesla and his friendly relationship with board members. He also touched on his time with Tesla, mentioning his many other interests, from the flamethrowers marketed by Boring to the perfume he recently launched, including his peace proposal for Ukraine and his debut at the Twitter header.
The decision of the judge in charge of the case, who also dealt with the file opposing Elon Musk to the social network, is expected in a few weeks or a few months.
© 2022 AFP
Did you like this article ? Share it with your friends with the buttons below.