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Elon Musk Says Only Two Things Could Make Him Leave Tesla

Tesla CEO Musk discusses succession plans and Twitter with shareholders.

Author:

Tom Bemis

Publish date:

Aug 5, 2022 10:08 AM EDT

Elon Musk enjoys and cultivates celebrity status as the CEO of Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. Report.

He is the rare CEO since Apple’s  (AAPL) – Get Apple Inc. Report Steve Jobs to receive a standing ovation at his company’s annual meeting. 

Fanboys of the executive fell over themselves at the Aug. 4 annual meeting to show their appreciation for Musk’s role in developing electric vehicles.

But Musk is pulled in many directions. In addition to Tesla, he runs SpaceX, Boring Co. and Neuralink. In addition, he’s now caught up in a legal battle over his attempt to purchase Twitter  (TWTR) – Get Twitter Inc. Report. Musk pulled out of the deal last month, claiming the company hadn’t provided accurate data on the number of spam accounts on the online microblogging service. 

There’s a big legal battle now underway between Musk and Twitter with court filings flying.

Given all that, Musk received an interesting question from a shareholder.

A shareholder was concerned about Musk’s “key man” role and succession plans at the electric vehicle maker.

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Musk told shareholders that “I intend to stay with Tesla as long as I can be useful.” He added that “I can be most useful, I think, on the product design and manufacturing. So basically factory design, product design and sort of manufacturing optimization.”

Nevertheless, he said, “Tesla’s definitely gathering a lot of momentum and it has a very exciting product road map that will last a long time.”

He added, jokingly one presumes, that “we do have a very talented team here, so I think Tesla would continue to do very well even if I was kidnapped by aliens or went back to my home planet.”

He added that “I’m definitely working as hard as I can and I’m very excited about the future of the company. I think it’s got a very bright future even without me.” But “I’m not leaving, just to be clear.”

Musk appeared not to have given up completely on the Twitter acquisition, or at least his interest in the company. “I have to be a little careful about what I say about Twitter cause there’s like this, you know, lawsuit and stuff.”

He went on to note that “the only two publicly traded securities I own are Tesla and Twitter. That’s it.”

“I think in the case of Twitter, since I use it a lot, shoot myself in the foot a lot, dig my grave etc., I do understand the product quite well. So I think I’ve got a good sense of where to point the engineering team at Twitter to make it radically better.”

Whether he really wants to, or will be forced to try, remains the $44 billion question.

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