Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s recent warning about diverting AI and robotics development outside the company unless granted more voting control has raised eyebrows among governance experts and analysts. Musk expressed discomfort about leading Tesla in these technologies without securing approximately 25% voting control.
In an unexpected shift, Musk, known for positioning Tesla as an “AI/robotics company,” declared on social media, “Unless I have influential control, I would prefer to build products outside of Tesla.” This statement contradicts his prior emphasis on Tesla’s role in AI and robotics, causing speculation about his motives.
Ann Lipton, a professor at Tulane Law School, remarked, “His tweets suggest a conflict of interest, turning down profitable Tesla opportunities based on personal preferences and redirecting them to private companies – a potential violation of fiduciary duties.”
Analysts echoed concerns, suggesting that moving technology development outside Tesla could harm the company’s share value by eliminating growth opportunities. The corporate opportunity doctrine prohibits CEOs and directors from claiming business opportunities for themselves that rightfully belong to the firm.
Elon Musk and Tesla have not provided comments on these concerns. As discussions unfold, questions about governance, fiduciary duties, and the potential impact on Tesla’s valuation linger in the air.