Tesla chair hints that Elon Musk could take his work 'other places' if he doesn't get his big payday

Robyn Denholm in front of a mic
Robyn Denholm said Elon Musk faces no shortage of ideas and "other places" he could work on them.Fairfax Media/Getty
  • Tesla board chair warned shareholders that Elon Musk could take his ideas "other places."

  • Musk has said he'd prefer to build AI and robotics products outside of Tesla without more control.

  • Robyn Denholm said the pay package vote is about fairness and respect, "not about the money."

Tesla board chair Robyn Denholm continued to double down on her efforts to convince shareholders to vote for Elon Musk's $55 billion pay package in the days leading up to the company's annual meeting.

In addition to laying out the potential consequences of rejecting the pay plan in a CNBC interview, she hinted in a shareholder letter filed to the SEC that the billionaire could take his work "other places" if he doesn't receive his payday.


"What we recognized in 2018 and continue to recognize today is that one thing Elon most certainly does not have is unlimited time," Delholm wrote in the letter. "Nor does he face any shortage of ideas and other places he can make an incredible difference in the world."

Some of those places may include the four other companies that he leads in addition to Tesla, like X, his artificial intelligence startup xAI, The Boring Company, and SpaceX. There's no doubt that Musk stays busy, but his level of focus on Tesla has become a point of concern for some investors.

While it's not clear what Musk would do if his pay package was rejected by shareholders, the Tesla CEO has said he wants more control at the company in order to continue pursuing AI and robotics products there.

Musk said in a post on X in January that he was "uncomfortable" expanding Tesla's AI and robotics development without 25% voting control. The Tesla CEO currently has about 13% control, according to company filings.

Unless given more control, the CEO said he would prefer to build AI and robotics products "outside of Tesla."

While Tesla is actively working on AI and robotics products, Musk is also developing AI products at his other companies too.

He's reportedly planning a supercomputer gigafactory for xAI in Memphis, and his social networking company, X, also has a ChatGPT rival called Grok.

Musk recently said that Tesla would spend around $10 billion this year on "combined training and inference AI." The company is in the process of advancing its Full Self-Driving system, Tesla's supercomputer Project Dojo, and the humanoid Tesla robot Optimus.

Denholm said in the letter that the pay package is "obviously not about the money," and reiterated that Musk is one of the wealthiest people in the world. She also noted he would continue to hold that status without the 2018 compensation plan.

Musk is the third wealthiest person in the world, according to Bloomberg's Billionaire Index, with an estimated net worth of $203 billion.

"We want those ideas, that energy and that time to be at Tesla, for the benefit of you, our owners," Denholm said. "But that requires reciprocal respect."

Denholm said in a CNBC interview Thursday that Tesla "can exist" without Musk, but it needs the company needs him at the helm at the moment.

The annual shareholder vote will take place on June 13.

Read the original article on Business Insider