Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, stands in the foundry of the Tesla Gigafactory during a press event. Year.
Patrick Pleul | Image Alliance | Image Alliance | Getty Images
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk expressed displeasure with President Joe Biden on Tuesday. He believed his government was “biased” against Tesla and said it was “controlled” by the unions while speaking on the stage at the Code Conference in Beverly Hills, California.
Musk also, in his typically disrespectful form, reiterated several of his previous taunts of state financial regulators at the SEC, reiterating his support for cryptocurrency and nuclear power, and saying he was optimistic about Tesla and the technology in China despite recent antitrust and cryptocurrency attacks there.
Beef with biden
Code host and Recode editor Kara Swisher asked Musk to explain recent tweets reprimanding President Joe Biden.
Musk sighed. “You know, Biden held this EV summit – didn’t invite Tesla. GM, Ford, Chrysler and UAW invited Revolution. “
Musk continued, “Does that sound a little biased or something? And you just know – it’s not the friendliest administration.
Swisher asked if he was waiting to get former President Trump back or to become president himself, he said no in both cases.
Taxes and Tweets
Swisher asked Musk – who is currently the richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg – to respond to criticism that while his companies have received many government contracts and subsidies, the CEO has avoided paying some taxes in person in the US by being creative , albeit legal accounting practices.
In June, investigative news site ProPublica reported on Musk’s tax law as part of a massive analysis of the billionaire’s finances. They found that Musk’s income tax bill was zero in 2018.
Musk insulted ProPublica’s coverage as “tricky” and “misleading”. (ProPublica did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s claims.)
Then he said the number was so low because he wasn’t getting a salary, so his cash compensation was basically zero. Instead, Musk borrows money in exchange for stock options that vest over time.
Since he has accumulated more and more shares in Tesla and SpaceX, he has “not really bothered” to take money off the table by selling a stake. The success of SpaceX and Tesla is anything but certain, Musk recalled. “You have gone bankrupt many times. But I never tried to take money off the table.
The publicly traded Tesla never notified shareholders that it was on the verge of bankruptcy.
When Musk’s stock options expire at Tesla, the CEO said his marginal tax rate will be over 50 percent. “I have a number of options that expire early next year – so … a huge block of options will be sold in the fourth quarter. Because I have to, or they will expire.”
Swisher said, “So you will eventually pay a lot of taxes?”
Musk said, “Massively, yes. Basically, a lot of what I sell will be taxes.”
Critics may believe that wealthy people who borrow against their stocks are “a ploy to get away from paying taxes,” he said. However, Musk stressed that this is not uncommon and can be a risky move. “Borrowing for stocks is kind of fun and game until you get into a recession and hit the margin calls and then go to zero, which basically happens every time a recession hits.”
He replied, “I definitely put on the record and said that I think our stock price is too high in my opinion, and that hasn’t stopped the stock price from rising. So … I don’t know – what? Should I do this do you know? I’m not the one to make it up! ” The audience laughed.
“I think it’s important to remember that my actual tax rate is 53 percent. They’re trying to make it look like I’m paying very low taxes, but the reality is that my taxes are very high … It’s going to be a huge amount . ” paid off for options expiring over the next three months, “he continued.
Swisher also asked about the CEO’s extensive and sometimes combative use of Twitter. “Go over us if you decide to tweet,” she said.
Musk answered Swisher in a sarcastic tone.
“Well, I think about it for hours. And I consult my strategy team, ”he laughed with the audience. “Or maybe I’m exhausted and then brrrr – psshht! Path! Let me shoot me in the foot, bam! Now let me shoot me in the foot, bam! That describes some of my tweets. “
The Securities and Exchange Commission previously sued Tesla and Musk for securities fraud after the CEO wrote on Twitter that he was considering making Tesla private for $ 420 per share and securing funding.
They eventually settled that lawsuit, with Musk and Tesla each paying a $ 20 million fine to federal agencies and Musk relinquishing his role as Tesla’s CEO. Musk also agreed to have his tweets reviewed by a compliance officer at Tesla before posting them if they contained material company information.
“Are you concerned about potential SEC involvement in your tweets?” asked Swisher.
Musk said, “What does that mean again? I know the middle word is ‘Elon’s’, but I can’t remember the other two words.
She asked him to answer seriously. “Are you afraid they’ll tell Elon, stop … tweeting.”
“You mean the Short Selling Enrichment Commission?” Musk asked.
Both comments were allusions to insults Musk made on Twitter in 2020 and 2018, respectively, to the financial regulator.
Crypto and China
Tesla made waves when it bought approximately $ 1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin. After the stocks were announced, the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed. When Musk announced on Twitter that Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoins as payment for its electric cars, the Bitcoin price collapsed.
When Musk tweets a recommendation for a particular coin – as he did with Dogecoin – the price tends to go up, at least temporarily.
When Swisher asked about regulating cryptocurrencies, Musk said the SEC should pull out.
“Just let it fly,” he suggested.
The People’s Bank of China recently declared all virtual currency related activities illegal. Swisher asked Musk if he had any concerns about working in China or if he was concerned about US-China relations.
After praising Tesla’s employees and the Shanghai vehicle assembly plant, Musk said he was “not particularly” concerned about China right now. As the pandemic subsides and a culture of face-to-face meetings resumes, Musk predicted that the “level of confidence” in China in tech companies and overseas companies would “go in a more positive direction.”
Musk said he believes China may not accept the cryptocurrency in part because of the electricity shortage there and the huge amount of electricity required to mine Bitcoin. However, he also noted that cryptocurrency could reduce the power of centralized governments.
When Swisher realized that Musk could individually change the proportions of cryptocurrencies more than China, he admitted this. She asked him if that was a good thing. He quipped, “If it goes up, I suppose.”
Space and energy
Swisher and Musk discussed at length about SpaceX, its competitors, plans to expand Starlink (a satellite Internet service), and ambitions to make humanity a “multi-planetary species”.
In the course of their SpaceX discussion, Musk took the opportunity to mock the phallic shape of Blue Origin’s rocket and berate Jeff Bezos for litigating his aerospace company.
Swisher asked, “Can you explain, from a technological point of view, why it is this shape?” The characteristically rough Musk said, “If you’re only flying suborbitally, your rocket can be a little shorter, yes.”
Musk stated that he doesn’t actually speak to the Amazon founder, but instead sub-tweets him – that is, posts tweets about Bezos without addressing him directly.
When asked about the light pollution from SpaceX that has affected the work of astronomers, Musk said, “We go to great lengths to make sure our satellites do not interfere with their telescopes.” SpaceX could launch some new telescopes with the Starship vehicle, he noted, which would have ten times the resolution of the Hubble. He said that only amateur astronomers are complaining about SpaceX today.
At the end of the session, an audience member asked if Musk was concerned that utility companies might be able to generate and transmit enough electricity to power electric vehicles as they become more popular.
Musk estimated that electricity needs would roughly double as the world switched from gas-powered to electric vehicles.
“That will create a lot of challenges with the grid,” he said. He saw the demand as “impracticable” unless significant local electricity generation in the homes is added by means such as residential solar products such as those sold by Tesla.
In addition to rooftop solar, he said we need to add “large, sustainable power generation facilities, mostly wind and solar” to the grid and combine them with battery packs to offset the intermittent nature of renewable energy.
As a final thought, Musk added:
“I’m kind of in favor of nuclear power too. And I’m kind of surprised by the public opinion against nuclear power. I’m not saying that we should build a whole series of new nuclear power plants. But I don’t think we should.” You have that in Germany and had to build a whole bunch of coal-fired power plants and I honestly think that wasn’t the right decision. “