Elon Musk says he lost money running Tesla last year

  • Elon Musk tweeted that he lost money running Tesla last year.
  • Musk was responding to a New York Times report which claimed that he made more than the next 65 highest-paid US CEOs put together in 2018.
  • A Tesla spokesperson told Business Insider that Musk receives no salary, cash bonuses, or equity.
  • In response to reports about his pay, Musk said a "fear, uncertainty & doubt propaganda campaign being pushed by those betting against Tesla has reached new heights."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Elon Musk says being the boss of Tesla actually cost him money last year.

Responding to a Twitter thread about Business Insider's coverage of a New York Times report on US CEO compensation, Musk refuted that he made more money than the next 65 highest-paid bosses put together in 2018.

The Times said Musk was awarded nearly $2.3 billion last year, largely in the form of stock options if Tesla hits specific market capitalization milestones over a decade.

But Musk tweeted that he was actually out of pocket last year after paying "most" of his Tesla-related expenses. "Tesla last year was actually net negative comp for me," he added.

This echoed the official statement put out by Tesla following the Times report. "Elon receives no salary, no cash bonuses, and no equity that simply vests by the passage of time," a Tesla spokesperson told Business Insider.

The spokesperson added that his only compensation is an "at-risk performance award" tied to specific milestones. "As a result, Elon's entire compensation is directly tied to the long-term success of Tesla and its shareholders, and none of the equity from his 2018 performance package has vested," they said.

In response to the reports about his pay, Musk tweeted that a "fear, uncertainty & doubt propaganda campaign being pushed by those betting against Tesla has reached new heights."

It's not unheard of for tech billionaires to forgo their salaries. Mark Zuckerberg draws an annual salary of $1 from Facebook, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made just 40 cents more in 2018 with Twitter paying him $1.40.

It was a rough year for Musk in 2018, as Tesla stock rose and fell in line with the company's year of "production hell." Musk said at the unveiling of the Model Y that 2018, "felt like ageing five years in one."

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