Musk Wants Greater Control of Tesla Before Building Its AI

(Bloomberg) — Elon Musk said he would rather build AI products outside of Tesla Inc. if he doesn’t have 25% voting control, suggesting the billionaire may prefer a bigger stake in the world’s most valuable electric vehicle maker.

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The Tesla chief executive officer, who currently owns more than 12% of the company according to data compiled by Bloomberg, argued in a post on X that the car company is a collection of a dozen startups. He called for a comparison between Tesla and General Motors Corp., traditionally one of the auto industry’s global leaders.

For example, Tesla is developing the Optimus robot, and last month posted a video showing improvements it’s made to the humanoid prototype. The automaker is also investing more than $1 billion into it Dojo supercomputer project, which will train the machine-learning models behind the EV maker’s self-driving systems and which analysts have estimated could add $500 billion to Tesla’s value.

At Tesla’s inaugural AI Day in 2021, Musk said he wanted to show that the company is more than just an electric car maker, but is “arguably the leader in real-world AI.”

Musk, who is Tesla’s single largest shareholder, was responding to a post questioning why he would need another large compensation package to stay motivated.

“I am uncomfortable growing Tesla to be a leader in AI & robotics without having ~25% voting control,” the CEO posted on X. “If I have 25%, it means I am influential, but can be overridden if twice as many shareholders vote against me vs for me. At 15% or lower, the for/against ratio to override me makes a takeover by dubious interests too easy.”

Musk said he would be fine with a dual-class voting structure to allow this, “but am told it is impossible to achieve post-IPO in Delaware.”

He said the reason no new compensation plan has been put in place is because the company is still waiting for a verdict in a shareholder suit against an earlier $55 billion package.

After more than doubling in 2023, Tesla shares have fallen 12% this year, wiping out over $94 billion in market valuation.

The world’s richest person is grappling with shareholder dissatisfaction over a panoply of issues, from Tesla’s succession planning to accusations that he’s distracted by his work with X, the platform formerly known as Twitter that he took over in 2022.

Read More: Elon Musk’s Drug Use Is the Latest Headache for Tesla’s Board

The company has also been hit by a barrage of negative news: an about-face on EVs from the car rental giant Hertz Global Holdings Inc., another price cut in China, and signs of rising labor costs.

(Adds further comment from Musk from sixth paragraph.)

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