Tesla Paid CEO Elon Musk Just $37,584 In 2015

Elon Musk


Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Reuters is reporting that Tesla Motors released its compensation records for top executives, including CEO Elon Musk.

In 2015, Musk received $37,584 in compensation from Tesla, which works out to minimum wage pay for the year. Of course, Musk holds stock options too, but those don’t count towards annual compensation for Tesla’s CEO.

In 2014, Mr. Musk received $35,360, so the Tesla boss received a tidy cost of living bump of ~6%

On the options:  The Tesla CEO got 5.27 million stock options in 2012 that were pegged to offset compensation over a ten year term for Musk’s efforts.  Today those shares are worth some $1.3 billion at time of press (or about $130 million/per year).  It total Mr. Musk currently owns 37.2 million shares of TSLA (real time quote), good for about $9.4 billion.

Jason Wheeler Moves To Tesla (via LinkedIn)

Jason Wheeler Moves To Tesla CFO Position (via LinkedIn)

Meanwhile, newly appointed Chief Financial Officer Jason Wheeler received $21 million from Tesla Motors in 2015. $20.9 million of that comes from stock options given to him in 2015 by Tesla. His salary amounted to only$46,154 in 2015, or right around minimum wage too.

Reuters further reports the following:

“JB Straubel, the company’s chief technology officer, got $250,560 in salary while Doug Field, Tesla’s vice president of engineering, received a $306,923 salary and $2,808,785 in stock awards…”

Source: Reuters

Categories: Tesla

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40 Comments on "Tesla Paid CEO Elon Musk Just $37,584 In 2015"

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I find it hard to believe that works out to minimum wage. If you work a 40-hour week, that is about $18 per hour. Considering Musk is the CEO of Space-X as well, I don’t see how he could spend more than 40 hours per week at Tesla.

He has someone punching his time card for him.

He should get a pay Cut!! R O T F L M F A O ……..Don’t forget…when he exercises those Stock options, he has to put his own out Money $$$ to buy them , so the stock better do good or he will lose money both ways ….

Plus when he exercises his stock options by paying for them with his own money, he’ll be liable for income tax on the paper gain of these stock options (the stock value when exercised less the stock value when the options were granted) which could be a considerable sum. Nevertheless, he’ll still net a healthy income.

alohart — It is highly likely that Musk has a very different type of Stock Option than you are used to. He likely has what is called Incentive Stock Options (ISOs) instead of the normal stock options you are familiar with. It that is the case, he does not pay taxes when he exercises his options. Fidelity does a good job of explaining it: “There are two types of stock options, classified by their tax status. Nonqualified Stock Options (NSOs) are more traditional stock options that do not meet certain IRS requirements that allow you special tax treatment. With NSOs, you will be taxed when you exercise the stock options. The IRS levies ordinary income tax, social security tax, and Medicare taxes on the difference between the fair market value when you exercise the stock options and the grant price. Incentive Stock Options (ISOs) do meet the IRS requirements for special tax treatment. With ISOs, you do not have to pay regular income taxes at the time you exercise, but you must hold your shares at least one year from the date of exercise and two years from the grant date in order to receive special tax treatment. If you… Read more »

Oh, yes. This guy is a workaholic. I have no trouble seeing him do 80+ hour working weeks. 40 hrs for each company.

Elon is the brainchild of all these companies that he owns/runs. Elon earns every penny he makes…Without Elon there would be N0 companies Zer0 N0thing!

He sure does work hard; the dude lives in CA and in most public appearances he has no tan whatsoever.

He is a unionized employee.

Yes, N0 union & loyal to his cause…It’s like he said, he could buy a yacht or whatever else he wants ,But that would not make him happy , he is not that kinda of person……He loves what he is doing & he is true to his cause…It’s not always about the money…

He may also have other benefits, like Health, Dental, etc.

I’d like to have 2.5% of his net worth ..That’s All!

Maybe this represents total compensation which includes their benefits package, i.e: healthcare, dental, vision, etc?

In any case, more proof that Elon Musk is “all-in” on Tesla/electrification of transportation.

It would be enlightening to see his pay compared to all the other CEO’s of the established OEMs? I’m sure it would be quite the contrast.


Im pretty sure he also got a decked out model X in 2015…

Tesla doesn’t give employee discounts. Musk pays full price, like everyone else.

Maybe a few Decked out model S’s Wouldn’t that be a natural occurance ????? du

If actions speak louder than words, Elon Musk actions speaks volumes about his commitment to the electrification of the automobile. If other auto manufacturers want to copy Tesla’s success, copy this. Beginning with Fiat.

N0 forever green .., Fiat wants Gas Burners…& that lovely Noise & air pollution they spew out of their *ss….

Personally, I hate these types of compensation plans. They should be forced to consider the first million or two of stock/option/etc. compensation to be ‘ordinary income’ because these types of compensation plans are used to avoid taxes.

You do get taxed on the value of the option, and you pay capital gains taxes when you sell. the “1%” folks pay plenty of taxes. If you think that the answer is socialism with equal income for all, just remember that compensation is a motivator, and if there is no compensation, there is less likely to be a motivator. What’s the motivation to try, without reward?

How about just the motivation to excel at something or to do something good (e.g., Musk)? I’d much rather support a person with this type of motivation rather than someone who’s in it for the money and power which can lead to all sorts of bad behavior (e.g., big bank executives). Above a certain amount, extreme compensation is almost meaningless to the recipient anyway but comes out of the pockets of others who would appreciate it more. Equal income for all is too extreme, but the extreme difference in compensation between ordinary workers and executives prevalent in U.S. companies is obscene and destructive.

Oh stop with this Socialism nonsense.

The issue is that they are replacing ordinary income compensation with capital gains and thus they get a lower tax rate.

Why should super wealthy execs pay a lower capital gains tax rate than school teachers that get paid a salary taxed at ordinary income rates? THAT is socialism for the rich . . . privatize the profits and pay lower tax rates than the poor.

Vexar said:

“…if there is no compensation, there is less likely to be a motivator. What’s the motivation to try, without reward?”

It’s a very good talking point. Of course, it completely ignores the reality, which is that the most recent periods of swift economic growth in the USA, the baby boom era, coincided with high marginal tax rates… up to 90-92% for the top earners, according to PolitiFact.com. The top rate in 2015 was 39.6 percent. (Let’s be clear that “marginal” tax rate doesn’t mean your entire income is taxed at that level; just the part of it that makes the 1% the wealthiest people in the world.)


Reality check: The tax system, the stock market, and the financial system have all gradually been heavily rigged in favor of the richest 1% over the past 30 years or so, helping the very rich avoid paying taxes and benefit from the stock market in ways that we 99% can’t. That’s why wealth inequality has risen to the highest level since the industrial revolution days of Rail Barons and Standard Oil.

“Hard work is it’s own reward.”

Vexar, actually he likely doesn’t pay any taxes when he exercises his options, because he likely has a different type of stock option than what you are used to. See my post at the top of the article. And he likely won’t pay any capital gains on large amounts of his shares either. That is because like most CEO’s he will rarely sell off all his shares. A large amount will be passed down to his children through a trust on a stepped-up basis (that can greatly reduce or eliminate capital gains taxes). Next, Musk has a personal 50 million dollar credit line from Goldman Sachs, so he can avoid actually cashing out shares, while still being able to spend the money. The way this works is that top executive officers of a large company often get very low or zero percent personal loans from the same financial institutions that service their corporate accounts. Basically the bank’s losses on the personal loan is more than offset by the profits from the business account. Musk puts his stock options down as collateral, so the bank has decent protection from losses. Meanwhile Musk can spend up to 50 million worth of his… Read more »

I’m pretty sure if regular person would do the same with S-corporation to save on payroll/self-employment taxes, he would get sliced and diced by IRS and dragged to court for paying artificially low wage below market rate.

I’m pretty sure that you don’t know what you are talking about.

Yeah,I had the same thought. Maybe if you are a C corp, you don’t fall under the same rules. When my partner and I formed our S corp, our CPA said we needed to pay ourselves a “reasonable” salary based on our positions and responsibilities (with regular employee deductions like FICA, Medicare, etc) as “employee-owners” or the IRS would hit us for dodging self-employment taxes.

He may have “made” so much money, but I wonder if he spent that much. With all the work he’s putting in between Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, where does he find time to spend any money? I know from experience working at startups that work consumes all your time, and that leaves very little time for spending money.

You can probably ask his ex-wives about how much personal time he has to spend, let alone the money.

I think he spends them on the companies.
Like he did with all his money from paypal (started tesla and spacex)

> where does he find the time to spend any money?

He’s had several wives.

You folks are completely ignoring the fact that Elon also got huge amounts of stock options ($1.2B) for inflating the stock price & market cap, and rushing unfinished alpha cars to customers. The milestones in hsi options grants are idiotic. Nowhere does it mention anything about a good quality car or customer satisfaction. Go figure!

And one must wonder, why the new CFO get $19 million for messing up the finaicial report and the supercharger valuation. Isn’t worth more than $0.5mil, IMO. But I guess, we have to live with corporations plundering the shareholders.

In fact, there are many CEOs that take or took $1 salary (Google’s founders, Cisco’s John Chambers). But this is merely a gesture. They get plenty in stock options, both ISOs and RSUs.

rushing alpha cars to customers…no quality or customer satisfaction concerns…seriously? You’re not paying attention or deliberately being a troll.

Ugh, another Tesla thread slimed by the stock manipulator Dr. FudSpreader.

I think that all owners of Tesla stock will be rewarded along with the 400,000 and counting Model 3 reservation holders with Tesla’s legendary performance.

Dr. FudSpreader can go back to Seeking Liars and coal and oil stocks.

I worked with a few very “well to do” individuals at a top 10 company. They made it clear it was NO LONGER about money. It WAS about doing what they thought was the right thing. They had some very long days. They also made it a point to share (grooming) the decision making process that had brought the company to it’s BILLIONS.

It’s NOT about money. It’s about lasting positive impact.

If you consider minimum wage $37k a year, then im doing a lot worse than i thought. But i still make (save) enough to drive a Nissan Leaf and a Zero S. And i reserved a Model 3. Seriously guys, minimum wage is $17,430 a year in NJ. And its almost as expensive to live here as California. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of your readers make $37k a year or less myself included. Let me know where the minimum wage $37k a year job is out there in sunny CA and ill be on my way out in my 2015 Nissan Leaf. That is, if there were enough chademos to reach CA.

You can put it on a train. They’re very energy efficient.

Hey now Elon can buy a Model 3 and have money left over for more options. He’s paid $37K and the 3 is much less after incentives.