A flippant Elon Musk takes shots at Biden, the SEC and anti-nuclear sentiment

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  • In an appearance at the Code conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Tuesday, Elon Musk criticized Joe Biden for not inviting Tesla to a White House summit on electric vehicles.
  • He also took a jibe at the SEC and clarified his point on fair taxation practices.
  • Furthermore, he said he did not understand why supporters of renewable energy were against nuclear power.

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SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk expressed his displeasure with President Joe Biden on Tuesday, describing his administration as “biased” against Tesla and saying it was not being accepted by the unions during a speech on stage at the Code conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. was “controlled”.

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Musk, in his generally irreverent form, also reiterated many of his earlier taunts at the SEC against federal financial regulators, reiterated his support for cryptocurrency and nuclear power, and said that he is looking forward to Tesla in China despite the recent antitrust and cryptocurrency crackdown. And are optimistic about the technology. .

Beef with Biden

Code host and Recode editor-at-large Kara Swisher asked Musk to explain recent tweets where he betrayed President Joe Biden.

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Musk sighed. “You know, Biden held this EV summit – didn’t invite Tesla. Invited GM, Ford, Chrysler, and UAW. An EV summit at the White House! Didn’t mention Tesla once, and EV’s Praised GM and Ford for leading the revolution.”

Musk continued, “Does this sound maybe a little biased or something? And you know, just — it’s not the friendliest administration. It seems to be controlled by unions, as far as I can tell. “

Swisher asked if he was waiting for former President Trump to get back or become president himself, a statement he said was not in both cases.

tax and tweet

Swisher asked Musk – who is currently the richest person in the world, according to Businesshala — Responding to criticism that their companies have received government contracts and a good deal of subsidies, CEOs have personally avoided paying certain taxes in the US through constructive, if legal, accounting practices.

In June, investigative news site ProPublica reported on Musk’s tax bill as part of a larger-scale analysis of the billionaire’s finances. They found that Musk’s income The tax bill went to zero in 2018.

Musk called ProPublica’s reporting “difficult” and “misleading.” (ProPublica did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s arguments.)

Then, he said the number was so low because he didn’t get a salary, so his cash compensation is basically zero. Musk borrows money in exchange for stock options that vest over time.

As he has accumulated more and more shares in Tesla and SpaceX, he said, he has “not really bothered” to take the money off the table by selling the stake. The success of SpaceX and Tesla was not sure, Musk reminded. “He’s gone through bankruptcy several times. But I’ve never tried to take the money off the table. And now trying to turn it around and turn it into a bad thing.”

Publicly traded Tesla never issued a notice to shareholders that it was close to bankruptcy.

When Musk’s stock options in Tesla expire, the CEO said his marginal tax rate would exceed 50 percent. “I have a bunch of options expiring early next year – so … a big block of options will be sold in Q4. Because I have or they will expire.”

Swisher said, “So you’ll end up paying a lot of taxes?”

“Largely, yes. Basically, the majority of what I sell will be taxed,” Musk said.

Critics believe that the wealthy people borrowing against their stock is “a ploy to get away from paying taxes”, he said. But Musk stressed that this is not unusual and could be a risky move. “Borrowing against a stock is all kind of fun and games until you have a bearish one and you hit margin calls and then you go to zero which basically happens every time there’s a bearish one.”

He replied, “I’ve certainly gone on record and said that I think our stock price is too high in my opinion, and it did nothing to stop the stock price increase. So… I don’t know– what should I do, you know? I’m not the one who’s raising it!” The audience laughed.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind, my actual tax rate is 53 percent. They’re trying to convey that I was paying very little taxes, but in reality my taxes are very high… A huge amount will be paid out over the next three months due to the option expiring,” he continued.

Swisher also asked about the CEO’s abundant, and sometimes combative, use of Twitter. “When you decide to tweet one, walk us through,” she said.

Musk replied to Swisher in a sarcastic tone.

“Well, I think about it for hours. And I consult with my strategy team,” he laughed with the audience. “Or maybe I was doomed and then I went brrrr–psshht! Let me shoot myself in the foot, bam! Now let me shoot myself in the foot! That describes some of my tweets.” “

Previously, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Tesla and Musk for securities fraud after the CEO wrote on Twitter that he was considering taking Tesla private for $420 per share and that he had secured funding. Was.

He eventually settled that lawsuit, in which Musk and Tesla each fined the Fed $20 million, and Musk relinquished his role as chairman of the board at Tesla. Musk also agreed to have his tweets reviewed by a Tesla compliance officer before posting if they contain any material company information.

“Are you concerned about any SEC involvement in your tweets?” Swisher asked.

Musk said, “What does that mean again? I know the middle word is ‘Elon,’ but I can’t remember the other two words.

He urged to answer seriously. “Are you worried they’re about to say Elon, stop… tweeting.”

Musk said, “Are you talking about the Shortseller Promotion Commission?”

Both comments were a sign of an insult to Musk, who lobbied the financial regulator on Twitter in 2020 and 2018, respectively.

crypto and china

Tesla made waves when he bought nearly $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin. After the disclosure of the holdings, the price of bitcoin skyrocketed. The price of bitcoin plummeted when Musk said on Twitter that Tesla would stop accepting bitcoin as payment for its electric cars.

When Musk tweets in support of a particular coin – as he has with Dogecoin – its price goes up, at least temporarily.

When asked by Swisher about cryptocurrency regulation, Musk said the SEC should step back.

“Just let it fly,” he suggested.

The People’s Bank of China recently declared all virtual currency related activities illegal. Swisher asked Musk if he had any concerns about working in China, or whether he was concerned about US-China relations.

After praising Tesla’s employees and vehicle assembly plant in Shanghai, Musk said, he was not “particularly” worried about China right now. In the face of the pandemic, Musk predicted a “level of trust” with tech companies and foreign businesses in China to enable a culture of in-person meetings to resume, “moving in a more positive direction.” will begin.”

Musk said he thinks China may not embrace the cryptocurrency due to the lack of electricity and the need for large amounts of electricity for bitcoin mining. But he also said that cryptocurrencies can reduce the power of centralized governments.

When Swisher said that Musk could personally “turn shares” in cryptocurrencies better than China, he acknowledged it. He asked her if it was a good thing. He quipped, “If it goes up, I guess it is.”

space and energy

Swisher and Musk discussed SpaceX, its competitors, plans to expand Starlink (a satellite Internet service), and ambitions to make humanity a “multi-planet species.”

During his SpaceX discussion, Musk took this opportunity to mock the phallic shape of Blue Origin’s rocket, and rebuke Jeff Bezos for his aerospace company’s litigation.

Swisher asked, “Can you explain from a technical point of view why this is the shape?” “If you’re only going to do suborbital then your rocket can get smaller, yes,” Ribald Musk said in a special way.

Musk specified that he doesn’t actually speak with the Amazon founder, but instead sub-tweets him — meaning he posts tweets about Bezos without directly addressing him.

When asked about building SpaceX light pollution It has interfered with the work of astronomers, Musk said, adding, “We work very hard to make sure that our satellites don’t interfere with their telescopes.” SpaceX could launch some new telescopes using the Starship vehicle, he noted, which would have ten times the resolution of Hubble. He said today only amateur astronomers are complaining about SpaceX.

As the session ended, a member of the audience asked whether Musk was concerned about utilities capable of generating and transmitting enough electricity to power electric vehicles as they become more popular.

Musk estimated that as the world moves from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, the demand for electricity will nearly double.

“It’s going to create a lot of challenges with the grid,” he said. He saw the demand as “unviable” unless significant local power generation is added to homes in residential solar products such as those sold by Tesla.

In addition to rooftop solar, he said we would need to add “large, sustainable power generation developments primarily wind and solar” to the grid, pairing them with battery packs to smooth out the intermittent nature of renewable energy.

Musk added as a closing thought:

“I’m also a nuclear pro. And I’m shocked by the public sentiment against nuclear. I’m not saying we should build a whole bunch of new nuclear plants. But I don’t think we should be doing that safely. We’re going to shut them down. They did that in Germany and had to build a whole bunch of coal power plants and I don’t think it was the right decision, frankly.”

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