Tesla CEO Elon Musk raked in $2.3 billion in total compensation in 2018, placing him at the top of the list of highest paid American CEOs according to a recent study. But his entire compensation package was Tesla stock options, which may lose significant value as the company’s share price continues to fall.
According to a report by executive data firm Equilar, Tesla CEO Elon Musk topped the listed of highest-paid American CEOs with earnings of $2.3 billion last year. The next highest paid CEO was David M. Zaslav of Discovery who made $129 million in 2018, but it should be noted that Musk’s earnings are based off the stock options he was granted from Tesla.
Below Musk and Zaslav was John Legere of T-Mobile in Washington who earned $66.5 million last year. James Heppelmann in Massachusetts of the software company PTC made $50 million, just below Legere. The survey only analyzed publicly traded firms with more than $1 billion in revenue that filed proxy statements with federal regulators between January 1 and April 30.
In order to determine CEO pay, Equilar combined salary, bonuses, stock awards, stop option awards, deferred compensation, and other benefits and perks. A large part of Musk’s earnings was based on his stock options in electric car manufacturer Tesla, however, with Tesla stock seeming to lower in price on a continuous basis in recent weeks, Musk’s overall earnings could decrease.
At the time of the writing of this article, Tesla’s stock price has dropped to $188.23. Many former Tesla bulls are now skeptical of the company, during a recent call with investors, Morgan Stanley equity analyst Adam Jonas expressed concerns over Tesla’s future. Issues raised on the call include signs that demand for Tesla’s electric vehicles appears to be slowing, poor sales in China, and lack of excitement over the announcement of the company’s Model Y SUV.
Jonas stated during the call that as recently as 2018 “Tesla was seen as a growth story,” but “today, supply exceeds demand, they’re burning cash. Nobody cares about the Model Y. … Tesla is not seen as a growth story, at least the feedback we were getting, which is quite one-sided … it’s seen more as a distressed credit story and restructuring story.”