Elon Musk, the “Technoking of Tesla” who probably doesn’t know the names of his seven children, told the Delaware Court of Chancery that he does not like being the CEO of Tesla and has “tried very hard not to be” the CEO of Tesla in various ways, including coming up with a stupider title for himself and getting sued all the time. Instead of managing his company, Musk prefers to spend his time on “engineering” and “design.”
“I have tried very hard not to be the CEO of Tesla, but I have to or frankly Tesla is going to die,” he said. ”I don’t want to be the boss of anything.”
Musk was on the witness stand to explain why the company he begrudgingly technoruns acquired SolarCity, a solar panel manufacturer he co-founded with his cousins, which had almost no money but more than a few design flaws at the time of purchase. When the acquisition went forward, Tesla celebrated with a display on the former set of Desperate Housewives.
Seven shareholder lawsuits, consolidated into one, alleged that Tesla directors breached their fiduciary duties in bowing to Musk’s wishes and agreeing to buy the struggling company. Last August, a judge approved a $60 million settlement that resolved claims made against all the directors on Tesla’s board except Musk without any admission of fault. That left Musk, who refused to settle, as the sole remaining defendant. The trial that begins Monday had been scheduled for March of last year but was postponed because of the viral pandemic.
The South African emerald heir doesn’t get along with the plaintiff’s lawyer, Randall Baron, as well as his cousins. When Baron suggested Musk was solely responsible for the financial damage, Musk said: “I think you are a bad human being...I have respect for the court, but not for you, sir.”
If Musk loses the case, he stands to pay over $2 billion in damages––the cost of the original deal––which would be one of the largest judgments against an individual ever. But he is trying to not let this whole thing get him down. “I do have a sense of humor,” Musk told Baron. “I think I’m funny.”
The trial will end this week, and Musk will return to running his company, which he hates.