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HomeTechnologyTesla and its fans waged an unprecedented battle over Elon Musk's $56B...

Tesla and its fans waged an unprecedented battle over Elon Musk’s $56B pay package


The Tesla fans posted. And over the last few months, Elon Musk engaged.

Every time he did, Tesla’s legal team had to get to work, writing and submitting regulatory filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It’s all part of an effort to say that, this time, when the shareholders vote to approve his monster $56 billion compensation package, they were fully informed.

The Delaware judge who rescinded the 2018 pay package in January did so in part because shareholders weren’t fully informed on the stockholder vote due to inaccurate proxy statements. So in the run up to this vote — which will be finalized at Thursday’s annual shareholder meeting — Tesla has clearly wanted to cover as many bases as possible by over-sharing anything Musk posted about or engaged with.

Here they are transcribing a 5-minute video from TeslaBoomerMama video that Musk shared on X, where she pleaded with shareholders to vote “yes.”

Here they are filing a video Musk shared of Andrew Ross Sorkin in Davos from 2018 supporting the original compensation plan, which was posted by an account the Anti-Defamation League says promotes QAnon.

Here they are posting a screenshot of a post of support from Musk’s former divorce lawyer, and Tesla’s former general counsel, Todd Maron.

Here they are, in the final week before the vote, piling dozens of screenshots of posts Musk interacted with into one very long filing.

None of these filings are signed, so it’s not clear who has been doing all this work. Musk has a bone-deep habit of behaving in a way that creates billable hours, so some of this is to be expected. But this push to “re-ratify” his compensation package has had Tesla’s regulatory team busier than maybe ever.

In terms of just raw filings, Tesla has submitted more to the SEC in the last three months than it has at any point in the last five years:

Strip out all the filings related to executives and institutional investors buying and selling shares, as well as all letters to and and from the SEC, and Tesla has been submitting more filings than in any time since before the “funding secured” mess in 2018:

This is all set against the backdrop of an unrelenting get-out-the-vote effort from Tesla’s biggest fans over the last few months. They’ve posted countless calls-to-action, have coordinated via direct messages on Musk’s X platform to help shareholders figure out how to vote, and more.

Tesla and its employees have joined in, too. The company posted photos of its Optimus robot prototype filling out a vote card. It published a rosy timeline of the company’s accomplishments since the plan was originally voted on in 2018. It even spun up an entire website dedicated to promoting the shareholder meeting, including a video from Tesla chair Robyn Denholm — who, until this recent push, rarely made public appearances on behalf of the company.

Many of its top executives voiced support, including some who have rarely used X. Tesla VP of Supply Chain Karn Budhiraj, who has only ever posted about a dozen times on X, wrote, “Elon is the driving force at Tesla and is critical for the future of the company.”

Tom Zhu, who was recently moved back to China amid Tesla’s larger restructuring, wrote that the company has a “vast vision beneath the surface that requires Elon’s wisdom, courage, and decisiveness to achieve.” Grace Tao, a high-ranking employee who leads communications in China and reportedly manages Tesla’s relationship with the government there, also posted (on Weibo) about Musk’s “wisdom, courage, and determination.”

Vanishingly few of the company’s employees or its supporters actually touched on the substance of the judge’s opinion that got us here: that Musk’s undeniable sway over Tesla and its board meant the process leading up to the pay package was inherently unfair.

But the effort has nonetheless helped Tesla’s shareholders reinforce the narrative around the company (and its stock) that Tesla is nothing without Musk, and that he deserves the compensation package he testified he essentially negotiated with himself. Since the fight over Musk’s pay package and the re-incorporation to Texas is likely headed for months of legal challenges, that might be victory enough for now.

In fact, they’re already celebrating as the votes are being tallied.





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