Elon Musk is no stranger to controversy. He refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine, took on the SEC over tweets, and even alleged that the diver was a pedophile when the world was worried about rescuing boys from the Thai Cave incident. Now, the CEO of Tesla has claimed that his company would die if he wasn't the CEO. However, this wasn't a publicity stunt, Musk said this in court.
Musk is currently testifying in the Court of Chancery, Wilmington, Delaware after shareholders and pension fund managers have stated that Musk used his position to influence the Tesla board's decision to buy his other company, SolarCity in 2016.
Founded by Musk's cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive, SolarCity was engaged in the sale and installation of solar energy generation systems. In 2016, Musk, who was the chairman of SolarCity as well as Tesla at that time, oversaw Tesla buy SolarCity for $2.6 billion.
Musk held 22 percent shares in both the companies, along with some other board members, including his brother Kimbal Musk. The complainants have accused Musk of misleading shareholders about the company's finances, dominating the board discussions during the purchase, and forcing the Tesla board to pay more for the SolarCity purchase.
On his part, Musk has denied all allegations and told the court that the board at Tesla involves hard-working people who are competent enough to make such decisions. He was not part of the committee that oversaw the SolarCity purchase and he could not influence them since he could neither hire, fire, or set pay for the board members. The merger was aimed at combining Tesla's battery business with SolarCity's energy generation business and was not about financial gain.
The all-stock deal involved no cash transactions and since Musk owned the same stake in both companies, he did not stand to gain in any way. Speaking about his leadership in the company as CEO, Musk said, "I rather hate it and I would much prefer to spend my time on design and engineering, which is what intrinsically I like doing”, the Wall Street Journal reported, “I don’t want to be the boss of anything.” But he must continue in his role or "frankly, Tesla is going to die."
If proven guilty, Musk would be single-handedly liable to return the $2.6 billion to Tesla shareholders while also putting the leadership at Tesla at risk.
The trial is scheduled to run for two weeks when Musk is scheduled to take to the stand again. It will be interesting to know what he will say next.