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Elon Musk doesn't have to stay CEO to get a $50 billion payout from Tesla

  • Tesla shareholders approved a new compensation package for CEO Elon Musk that could net him tens of billions over the next decade.
  • The new pay deal allows Musk to hand off the CEO reins and serve as chief product officer, instead.

Tesla shareholders approved a new and unprecedented compensation package for CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday.

The plan could see Musk taking home more than $50 billion over the next decade, though he will only receive a full payout if Tesla hits a market cap of $650 billion. The company's current market cap is around $54 billion.

While Musk recently said there is "no active or passive" search for a new CEO for the company, he said at some point he might be willing to appoint someone and take on a different role, perhaps one more focused on product development and engineering.

Shareholders were eager to lock Musk in, long term, at Tesla. That was one big reason they voted to approve the plan. But they weren't totally picky about Musk staying on in the CEO role.

According to the filing, the 10-year compensation package for Musk will require him to serve as either CEO, or chief product officer and executive chairman of Tesla, with all leadership reporting in to him.

Musk could opt to bring in a new CEO who would report to him. That may be necessary.

Musk's dazzling promises and presentations score constant press coverage, and have earned him a cult-like following, as well as investors' forgiveness — until very recently — for missing many targets. Customers are often fanatical about their Tesla vehicles and service experiences.

However, Musk is also seen as spreading his time and talents thin across a slew of ambitious companies he's founded, including: SpaceX, Hyperloop, the Boring Co., Neuralink and others.