Whatever verdict emerges from this week’s Delaware court case over Elon Musk’s compensation as Tesla CEO, you can argue he has already lost. Tesla stock has dropped 51% since April 4, when Musk revealed he had bought a stake in Twitter. That’s more than twice as much as the Nasdaq has fallen in that period. Such a decline is a very clear signal that Tesla shareholders don’t appreciate the growing number of Musk’s other commitments, a core issue in the court case. As Musk is the biggest shareholder in Tesla, he is taking a bigger hit than any other investor in the automaker.
It’s the good thing about public markets. While shareholders frequently cannot influence the decisions a CEO makes, they can sell their stock if they don’t like what’s going on. If enough of them do that, it can tank the stock. That’s what has happened at Meta Platforms this year and, it seems, at Tesla. And who can blame those Tesla shareholders who are unhappy with their distracted CEO? Jack Dorsey got a lot of criticism for his part-time CEO role at Twitter—and he had just one other CEO job. Musk is CEO of Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX, and has two other businesses The Boring Co. and Neuralink that he is surely involved in somehow. If you stop and think about it for a moment, the fact that Musk has been allowed to get away with so much moonlighting is nuts.