Elon Musk says he was thinking about quitting Tesla when the electric car maker's board of directors gave him a pay package that came to be worth about $55 billion.
"We were at an inflection point where we had to decide whether I would run the company or someone else would run the company," Musk said in testimony last week in a lawsuit brought by a Tesla shareholder challenging his compensation. "I did not want to be CEO."
Lawyers for the plaintiff, who owns nine Tesla shares, described the package in court as equivalent to the entire gross domestic product of Delaware, where the case is being heard, and far more than it cost to build the World Trade Center.
In about three hours on the witness stand, Musk gave meandering testimony that frustrated Kathaleen McCormick, the chancellor presiding over the case.
"I'm going to interrupt Mr. Musk, because we can all listen to this all day," McCormick said. "It's very interesting, but I don't think it was responsive to the question, which I've now forgotten."
Musk was asked if he had any legal training. "If you're in enough lawsuits, you pick up a few things along the way," he replied.
He said he doesn't really take time off. " 'Vacation' is a strong word," Musk countered. "For me it's an email with a view."
Musk denied being drunk when anointing himself "technoking" of Tesla in 2021. And he claimed — under oath — that a July 2020 tweet insulting the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was actually benign.
"SEC, three letter acronym, middle word is Elon's," the tweet said. Musk said the message he had in mind was "Save Elon's Company."