When it comes to sales, California-based electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors is not particularly close to competing with industry leader Tesla.
But the rival company still seems to have caught the attention of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently took a public jab at Lucid’s CEO’s compensation package.
“Beware any company where leadership compensation is not linked to performance,” Musk posted to X (formerly known as Twitter).
Beware any company where leadership compensation is not linked to performance
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2023
The tweet was in response to an article about Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson being the second-highest-paid executive in the automotive industry, with a compensation package of about $379 million.
As the United Autoworkers Union Strike has highlighted, a massive portion of executive compensation in the U.S. comes in the form of stock options, which allow CEOs to take essentially unlimited salaries while their employees’ wages remain stagnant (and, while often avoiding a lot of taxes).
Rawlinson’s 2022 compensation package was broken down into a $575,000 base salary, about $5.5 million in stock option gains, and about $373 million in stock award gains.
While Musk is correct that it seems strange that the CEO of a company that delivered just under 4,400 luxury cars in 2022 would receive $379 million in compensation, the controversial Tesla CEO doesn’t have a particularly sturdy leg to stand on. The reported richest man in the world technically receives no salary from his role at Tesla, but he did get around $23 billion in stock bonuses last year, albeit from a company that is at least leading in the EV market, to Musk’s point.
However, Musk has not been asked the same difficult questions about his compensation as, for example, GM CEO Mary Barra — largely due to the fact that Tesla’s workforce is not unionized. In 2018, Musk threatened that Tesla employees would lose their stock options if they attempted to form a union.
The U.S. labor board ruled earlier in 2023 that Tesla has violated workers’ rights by trying to suppress union activity. The company is also facing a series of racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits from former employees.
“I invested $20,000 into Lucid, because I thought they had the best EV on the market, but I had no idea the CEOs were cashing in on what would have been a great brand,” wrote one commenter.
“Revenue is $300M but the CEO compensation is $73 million MORE than the entire revenue of the company???” wrote another.
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