Tesla shares are up 86% so far this year, which means CEO Elon Musk just qualified for stock options worth more than $700 million, CNN reported.
Musk, who already owns about 20% of the company, doesn’t get a straight salary or bonuses. Under a stock compensation plan approved by shareholders in 2018, he can receive up to 20.3 million stock options by 2028 if the company hits various market value and operational goals.
It already hit the first two operational goals, but until now it had yet to reach the market value target of an average of $100 billion over a six-month period.
On November 4 the company was worth $57 billion. But after years of losses, the company has at last proven it can be profitable on a sustained basis. In January, it posted its first annual profit, for 2019. And Tesla reported a profitable first quarter, rather than the loss forecast by analysts, even in the face of the global Covid-19 pandemic which shut down its production and limited sales.
On Tuesday, Tesla shares were worth $144 billion, making it worth more than any automaker in the world except Toyota. It’s now more valuable than the combined market value of Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler. That brought the six-month average to just above the $100 billion threshold.
When Musk gets the first tranche of 1.7 million options, he’ll can exercise them at a cost of $350.02 each, though typically executives don’t exercise an option when first granted. The value of those options, less that cost, comes to about $720 million.
However, even that sizable payday is modest compared to the $26.4 billion value of the Tesla shares Musk already owns. But if he gets all 20.3 million options, they could conceivably make Musk the richest man in the world.