Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants $45 billion but the company has shed $700 billion in market cap value

Tesla’s market cap is down more than $700 billion from its peak and investors are reeling, but CEO Elon Musk is still trying to make sure he gets paid.

The company’s share price has plummeted 63% from its all-time-high of $409 in November 2021 and its market cap has fallen under the $500 billion mark for the first time in a year. Since January, the electric carmaker has also faced a number of setbacks including its first year-over-year sales decline since the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of layoffs, and the possible shuttering of a planned low-cost EV.

That hasn’t stopped Tesla’s board from urging shareholders in its Wednesday proxy statement to approve a $45 billion pay package for its chief executive. Musk’s compensation package (then worth $56 billion) was scrapped by a Delaware judge in January.

The EV maker is now running another vote to get investors to approve Musk’s pay. The chair of the company’s board, Robyn Denholm, argued that because the judge rejected Musk’s pay package he “has not been paid for any of his work for Tesla for the past six years.”

Still, while Tesla investors and Musk’s boosters are known for their fanaticism, the company’s recent performance has yielded a call for change from some notable analysts and investors.

Longtime Tesla Bull, Wedbush Securities’ Dan Ives, told CNBC on Wednesday that while Musk deserves the large pay package, he is facing a “fork in the road period,” and needs to turn things around. 

“This is something that has gone from a Cinderella story to, in the near term, a horror show,” Ives said. 

Tesla investor Ross Gerber, the CEO of investment advisor Gerber Kawasaki, agreed with Ives that Musk deserved the compensation but called out Tesla’s board for a flawed process that took away their credibility, he said in an interview with CNBC.

From its inception, Tesla marketed itself as ushering in a fully EV future, but lately, competition from Chinese EV makers along with weakening EV sales growth has threatened that goal.

Musk denied a report by Reuters earlier this month that Tesla was scrapping the Model 2, a long-planned low-cost EV, and instead focusing on robotaxis. Still, the Tesla CEO confirmed in a post on X that the company would release a robotaxi by August. 

Some investors are already sounding the alarm about Tesla’s refocus, including prominent Tesla investor and portfolio manager at Baron Capital Inc. David Baron.

“The Model 2 is a crucial piece of our thesis. If they stopped that, that is investment thesis-changing,” Baron told Bloomberg.

Gerber, of Gerber Kawasaki, also joined Baron in bashing Tesla’s redirection to robotaxis in a post on X.

Without a lower-priced Tesla for mass market drivers,  “there isn’t one financial model that any analyst has that works for tesla. They must develop a low cost tesla,” Gerber wrote.

Gerber has long complained about Musk’s level of control at Tesla and suggested in March that Tesla could turn itself around if it got “a real CEO.” Alternatively, Musk could redouble his focus on the company and say less, Gerber said. As recently as February, Gerber still expressed belief in Tesla’s long-term growth possibilities and in Musk’s position at the company. His suggestion for Musk was “just to shut up,” Gerber told Yahoo Finance. 

Tesla’s stock closed down 3.5% at about $149 on Thursday.

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