Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Tesla pays him just minimum wage, which he refuses to accept, yet somehow Elon Musk managed to make $1 billion more than the next highest compensated U.S. automotive CEO.

Interesting, to say the least.

Musk's salary direct from Tesla is minimum wage, which amounts to basically nothing in the grander scheme for Musk, so how did he end up the highest compensated U.S. automotive CEO?

It's stock options.

As Automotive News states:

"The Tesla Inc. CEO, who usually sits at the bottom of the list because of his penchant for requesting — and refusing to take — California's minimum wage, posted the largest total CEO compensation by a margin of more than a $1 billion. Musk exercised $1.34 billion in stock options set to expire in 2016, according to the Automotive News/Equilar CEO Compensation study."

"His pay increased by 3.6 million percent."

Quite the annual raise there.

Another look at Tesla Model 3 001 - that <a href='rolled off the line' sometime on Friday/Saturday" draggable="false">

Another look at Tesla Model 3 001 - that 'rolled off the line' sometime on Friday/Saturday

Automotive News adds:

"However, Musk's reported total compensation "was not actually received in cash upon these exercises," a Tesla proxy statement said. Musk sold $593 million in stock, which was used "solely in order to pay ... income taxes related to such exercise," according to the proxy."

Kinda confusing.

Musk's pay increase comes mainly from meeting multiple board-set goals. It's all part of a long-term plan set by the board in 2012. Automotive News states:

"Musk exercised options on 6.7 million shares in 2016, averaging about $194 per share in gains for $1.34 billion."

"As of April 20, the date of the proxy filing, Musk had reached eight market capitalization milestones and six operational ones."

Those goals include:

  • Model X alpha and beta prototypes
  • Model X production
  • Model 3 alpha and beta prototypes
  • Cumulative production of 100,000 vehicles
Getting paid to perform and to achieve goals. Makes sense to us.

Behind Musk's $1.34 billion in compensation and in the number two spot among automotive CEOs was Thomas Lynch of TE Connectivity. He made a paltry $32.1 million. The highest compensated CEO out of the Big 3 was Mark Fields (no longer Ford's CEO) at $16 million. Chump change compared to Musk's $1.34 billion.

Source: Automotive News