Roundup: Elon gets the green light to loot Tesla

Read to the end for a video game finding getting rid of landlords solves the rent crisis

Roundup: Elon gets the green light to loot Tesla
Elon Musk celebrating his victory at Tesla’s Annual Shareholder Meeting. Source: Twitter/teslaownerssv

Tesla shareholders voted to give Elon Musk a more than $50 billion pay package this week, months after a Delaware judge threw it out. They also voted in favor of reincorporating the company in Texas so Musk doesn’t have to deal with Delaware courts in future. (Texas is setting up its own business court system where Musk surely feels he’ll get a better hearing.)

The vote shows us the benefit of having your company’s shares owned by a bunch of sycophants. Tesla is unusual in that more than 40% of its shares are owned by retail investors, instead of the larger institutional investors. In short, that means Tesla fans and Musk cultists have a lot of voting power in the company, as long as they use it.

In the past, retail investors have tended to vote in very low numbers. But that apparently changed this time, with those Musk fans helping pave the way for their Technoking to loot his electric vehicle company at a time when it’s seriously struggling. Over at Business Insider, Ana Altchek noted how it shows the power of the cult of Elon.

After the past couple years of his spin down the drain of far-right politics, his recent open embrace of fascist political parties like Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland, the new revelations about how he (pathetically) goes after women who works at his companies, and Tesla’s poor performance, some of his fans are more behind him than ever.

Altchek reported that at the celebratory event in Texas after the vote passed, his fans were there in Cybertruck t-shirts and with a big banner that read “Don't mess with Tesla retail shareholders.” They told him they loved him, called him their “absolute idol,” and said they worried about his health. The adoration and support, regardless of what he does, brings to mind the exact demeanor people have been pointing to in Donald Trump fans as an example of rising fascism: the desire to put one’s faith in an Great Man and back him no matter what. It’s not dissimilar to what Marc Andreessen was pushing with the Techno-Optimist Manifesto — to put one’s faith in Silicon Valley and ignore the reality of its impacts.

But it seems even more dangerous when the figure of fascist adoration can easily tap into tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars and has governments willing to ignore regulations and the impact of his actions to get him to invest nearby. The shareholder vote signals something scary about Musk’s power; that it’s reached a level where it will be very hard to dismantle, regardless of how poorly his companies do or how toxic a figure he becomes. Power negates it all.

On that negative note, we do have another great roundup this week with some recommended stories that I now realize are all about Elon Musk (oops!), plus important labor updates and other news you might have missed.

I was also on the Cybernews podcast this week talking about AI and bunch of other topics. Plus, on Tech Won’t Save Us, I interviewed Nitasha Tiku about how Silicon Valley is desperate to tap into Saudi and Emirati sovereign wealth funds to finance their AI ambitions, regardless of those countries’ human rights abuses.

Have a great week!