What would you do for a $50 billion payout?
That’s what Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk could be looking at if everything goes to plan.
You see, Musk doesn’t draw a salary or collect any pay for being the CEO of Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA). In fact, he recently claimed he doesn’t have any money. And that is partially true.
What has to be understood is Musk’s net worth is tied directly to holdings of Tesla and SpaceX stock, and as the stock price moves up and down, so does Musk’s overall value.
Musk’s value becomes even more complicated when you factor in that his compensation is based on the financial milestones of the companies — like reaching a certain stock price.
Tesla has refuted any claims that Musk earns a salary or bonuses. In a statement to Business Insider after the publication claimed Musk earned $2.3 billion in 2018, the company said:
“His only compensation is a completely at-risk performance award that was specifically designed with ambitious milestones, such as doubling Tesla’s current market capitalization from approximately $40 billion to $100 billion,” the statement said. “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.”
But, Musk Can Make Money
Here’s where things get interesting and where Musk can make A LOT of money.
Musk makes his money based on the performance of the company. If Tesla surpasses certain market value, revenue and adjusted earnings goals, he gets stock options that vest in increments.
As of Friday afternoon trading, Tesla shares were at around $475 — significantly up from its 52-week low of $176.99. The company’s market value is already more than Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) combined.
Once Tesla reaches a market value of $100 billion (it’s at around $85 billion now) it will open the first tranche of a massive payment — about 1.69 million options — to Musk. That payment is in the neighborhood of $346 million, according to Bloomberg.
To reach the $100 billion valuation, the stock has to be at $554.80 a share. It’s not far off.
The $50 Billion Payout
However, the big money comes if and when Tesla reaches a valuation of $650 billion, along with an increase in adjusted earnings and revenue. If that happens — and it’s not unrealistic that it will — Musk would receive about 20.2 million in options, valued at around $50 billion.
It’s not going to happen this year and not likely to happen in the next five years unless something extraordinary happens in the future. What that would be I can’t even think of.
But consider the company already hit a couple marks — $20 billion in aggregate revenue over four quarters and $1.5 billion in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization at that same time.
Hitting the next mark of $3 billion in EBITDA also doesn’t seem too unrealistic.
While getting a $50 billion payout seems nice, it’s highly unlikely that Musk would sell whatever stock options he gets. He hasn’t sold any Tesla shares, except for those needed to pay income taxes in 2016.
Still, the fact that there’s even a slim chance of it happening is incredible.