Elon Musk defends his title as ‘technoking’ of Tesla, but not Twitter CEO

A magenta-hued photograph of Elon Musk against a wavy illustrated background.
Illustration by Laura Normand / The Verge

Apparently, Elon Musk doesn’t want to be CEO of any company.

Or so he claimed in testimony at a trial Wednesday challenging his giant compensation package at Tesla. Musk, who is the CEO of multiple companies, including most recently, Twitter, was answering questions from lawyers representing Tesla when he made the offhand comment.

“I frankly don’t want to be the CEO of any company,” he said.

The trial, which kicked off Monday, is focused on whether Tesla’s board acted appropriately when it approved a pay package for Musk that is now worth about $52 billion at recent share prices and whether Musk had any undue influence over that decision.

But Musk’s testimony also stretched into topics including his titles, how he spends his time, and most importantly, whether he was drunk when he crowned himself “technoking” of Tesla in 2021. (He said he was sober, but his lilt suggested otherwise.)

He explained why he chafes at the title of CEO at his various companies, noting that he does not view his role as a traditional chief executive.

“At SpaceX, it’s really that I’m responsible for the engineering of the rockets and Tesla for the technology in the car that makes it successful,” he said. “So, CEO is often viewed as somewhat of a business-focused role, but in reality, my role is much more that of an engineer developing technology and making sure that we develop breakthrough technologies and that we have a team of incredible engineers who can achieve those goals.”

He also reiterated that he does not intend on staying CEO of Twitter forever. Musk took over the company two weeks ago and, since then, has laid off half the staff, launched and retracted multiple new product ideas, and overseen the retreat of several established advertisers.

“I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time,” he said.

Asked how he spent his time in 2017 while the pay package was coming together, Musk said he was splitting his time between Tesla and SpaceX, with less time spent on his tunneling and brain chip ventures — though, at the end of the year, he spent almost all of his time at Tesla, which was in the middle of its so-called “production hell” of the Model 3.

Investors have expressed concern over Musk’s ability to multitask and whether the billionaire is taking on too much to legitimately run as many companies as he does. Musk testified that he spends the majority of his time “wherever the crisis is.”

This is not to say that Musk isn’t thinking about the distant future as well. Asked about the Tesla Roadster that is currently traveling through space, Musk called it an “art piece that will last millions of years.”

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Source: The Verge

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