by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Tesla is no stranger to criticism within this forum. The latest example involves Vito Racanelli‘s assessment for Barron’s of the new pay deal announced for Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
However bold this new pay plan might seem—it considers that Musk could grow Tesla’s market capitalization from the current $58 billion to $650 billion in 2028—shareholder-friendly it is not. It emphasizes market cap goals, not sustainable profits.
Under the new plan, Musk, who owns about $13 billion in Tesla stock, gets nothing until the company’s market cap reaches at least $100 billion. He gets a huge trove—about $55 billion—if it rises to $650 billion.
The fact that one of the most talked about and richest CEOs in the world could get zero compensation, even if the market cap rises two-thirds to $99 billion, is just the kind of risk-taking at which Musk excels.
Despite the possibility that he could get zilch, the pay package doesn’t focus on the right things. There’s a lack of emphasis on profits and production, says David Trainer, CEO of New Constructs, an independent research outfit specializing in forensic accounting. “The new plan stands in contrast to the previous scheme, which required Musk to hit production, gross margin, and new model targets.”