Tesla Board Member Jabs At Elon Musk As Questions About Twitter Distractions Mount


Hiro Mizuno, one of Tesla’s eight board members, offered some rare, albeit lighthearted, pushback against Tesla’s brash billionaire CEO Elon Musk in a Tuesday interview, giving a glimpse into how leadership at the electric vehicle giant has felt about Musk’s “antics,” which inspired a notable activist investor campaign and greatly contributed to massive stock losses.

Key Facts

Asked by CNBC’s Dan Murphy if Musk is spread too thin for his liking, Mizuno shrugged and said he wouldn’t comment, with a laugh.

Musk also serves as the top executive at the aerospace company SpaceX and social media firm Twitter, the latter of which he bought for $44 billion in October, selling billions of dollars in Tesla stock to fund the purchase and dedicating a massive chunk of his time to overhaul the company.

Mizuno explicitly criticized Musk’s often blasé attitude toward Tesla’s stock performance or financial future, saying Tuesday he “disagree[s] whenever Elon says, ‘I don’t mind Tesla getting into bankruptcy if somebody else comes up with a better car.’”

Notably, Mizuno’s comments come four days after investor Ross Gerber told Bloomberg that he plans to run for a seat on Tesla’s board as a “friendly activist,” proclaiming he’s “had enough” of Musk’s distractions, with Tesla stock down more than 40% since Musk first took a stake in Twitter last April.


Despite the high-profile nature of Gerber’s battle, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll have the backing to reasonably challenge for a spot on Tesla’s board, Patrick Gadson, a partner at the law firm Vinson & Elkins law firm who co-heads its shareholder activism practice, told Forbes shortly after Gerber announced his plans Friday. It won’t be an “easy fight to win” for Gerber, according to Gadson, pointing to the uphill battle Gerber would face to secure enough shareholder votes in his favor given the company’s ownership structure. Gerber’s investment firm owns roughly 440,000 shares of Tesla, according to Bloomberg, worth about $88 million Tuesday. That .01% stake pales in comparison to Musk’s 13.4% ownership of the company and the respective 1.43% and 0.05% stakes of close Musk ally and billionaire Tesla board member Larry Ellison, and Musk’s younger brother and Tesla board member Kimbal Musk, according to FactSet data.

Big Number

About $39 billion. That’s how much in Tesla shares Musk sold between November 2021 and December 2022. More than half of the offloading ($22.9 billion) came after Musk agreed to buy Twitter in April.

Crucial Quote

“It’s really a question whether [Musk] is a human or alien,” Mizuno quipped Tuesday, adding the Tesla CEO has an “incredible bandwidth” to work.

Surprising Fact

Tesla stock broached $200 for the first time since mid-November last week and is now the best-performing stock on the S&P 500 year-to-date, with the company up nearly 90% but still down 50% from a record high in 2021.

Further Reading

Elon Musk’s Twitter Antics Are Tarnishing Tesla – Just As Its EV Rivals Are Catching Up (Forbes)

Tesla board member says Musk doesn’t mind bankruptcy if a rival builds a better car: ‘That’s his philosophy’ (CNBC)

Tesla Shareholder Gerber Pursues Board Seat to Rein in Musk (Bloomberg)

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