Tesla Investors Voted For Elon Musk's $45 Billion Pay Package, But He Won't Get It Yet

Photo: Apu Gomes (Getty Images)
Photo: Apu Gomes (Getty Images)

It seems like 1,000 years since Tesla began the drive to return Elon Musk’s $56 billionsorry, $45 billion now that shares have droppedpayday, after it was struck down as “unfathomable” by a Delaware court. As of yesterday, the tally is finally in: Tesla investors want the CEO to get every single share promised in the original deal. The vote passed, but Tesla’s fight isn’t over yet.

That’s because Tesla’s real fight was never with the investors. Instead, the company’s true opponent is Kathaleen McCormick, the Delaware judge who voided the whole deal in the first place. McCormick voided Musk’s pay in part because of its sheer value, but also due to the state of the company board that approved it — a board that was, to McCormick’s reading, entirely beholden to Musk.

Thus, the vote. Tesla hopes to convince the Delaware courts that the company’s board was not acting purely out of deference to Musk — it was acting in the interests of the shareholders. Since those shareholders have now officially stated they think Musk deserves this pay, Tesla’s attorneys will argue that the board acted properly, and that the pay should be reinstated. Whether that will convince McCormick, however, remains to be seen.


Of course, the board’s allegiances aren’t the only thing McCormick is considering. Back when the case was freshly decided, Reuters wrote:

The plaintiff’s legal team also argued the board had a duty to offer a smaller pay package or look for another CEO and that they should have required Musk to work full-time at Tesla instead of allowing him to focus on side projects, like SpaceX and X.

It’s hard to argue Musk’s focus has been more single minded on Tesla during the run-up to this vote — at least, it’s tough to claim that his attention was on Tesla’s business. Musk has been consistently tweeting about the vote, talking about it nearly every chance he gets, and that may not help his case when it comes to his dedication to the cause.

Right now, no one knows how Judge McCormick will decide based on this new vote. If she doesn’t change her mind, Musk will likely continue his appeals until no further options are left to him. And maybe, somewhere in that process. Musk will do some work with Tesla that isn’t just another layoff.

For the latest news, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.