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How Elon Musk's massive pay package stacks up against other CEOs

How Elon Musks Massive Pay Package Stacks Up Against Other Ceos

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Elon Musk’s massive pay package was struck down by a Delaware judge this year. Now Tesla shareholders are getting their say.Steve Granitz/Getty Images
  • Tesla shareholders endorsed Elon Musk’s pay package Thursday.
  • Musk’s 10-year pay package, tied to financial goals since 2018, is worth $46.8 billion.
  • Here’s how it stacks up to — and outshines — other CEO pay packages.

The results of the Tesla shareholder vote on Elon Musk’s pay package were be announced Thursday. A vote in favor of the multibillion-dollar sum puts the Technoking of Tesla, as he’s called by the company, one step closer to pocketing 304 million shares — compensation that a Delaware judge struck down as “unfathomable” earlier this year.

At Tesla’s stock price as of the market’s close on Wednesday — and considering the exercise price of $23.34 per share — the 10-year pay package, which Musk earned in 12 tranches by hitting a series of financial goalposts since 2018, would be worth $46.8 billion, pre-tax. That’s more than the GDP of dozens of countries, including Iceland and Paraguay, and the market cap of major corporations like Barclays and Kering.

Furthermore, it’s more than any CEO has ever made in a single pay package — both in terms of the sheer amount of money and the amount of control it would give Musk, whose stake in the company would jump from 13% to more than 20%. (The package, announced in 2018, was also rare in terms of its riskiness: The targets Tesla had to hit were deemed moonshots at the time, and if he didn’t reach them, he’d make nothing.)

“There is certainly no comparable in level of pay,” Jason Schloetzer, a professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, told Business Insider. “Even if you divide it by 10, it’s still a ginormous amount of money.”

The shareholder vote doesn’t mean Musk will automatically get that ginormous amount of money; the Delaware judge who originally decided the case or the state’s Supreme Court, which would hear any appeal of the case, will make the final decision. And if the pay package does eventually get approved, it’s hard to know exactly how much it will be worth when Musk, who is worth $198 billion, per Bloomberg, actually exercises the options. (Because of the lawsuit, which was filed in 2018, he hasn’t pocketed any of them yet.)

Musk’s pay package was worth $2.3 billion when it was granted to him in 2018, though its value has skyrocketed as the stock ballooned and the various tranches of options vested. (Its value has actually fallen this year, though, in tandem with Tesla’s share price, from about $56 billion when the January judgment was made.)

That said, no matter how you slice it, it’s an eye-popping amount.

“When you start seeing someone making a couple hundred million — $250 million, $220 million — it seems that’s when questions and media coverage starts to happen,” Schloetzer said. “Any way of looking at it, it’s an astronomical sum.”

 

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