From "Fanboy" to Foe: Tesla's Top Retail Investor Revolts Against Elon Musk's $50B Pay Package


Tesla's Top Retail Investor, Once an Elon Musk "Fanboy," Turns Against CEO's $50 Billion Pay Package

Leo Koguan, a Singapore-based billionaire who claims to be Tesla's largest retail investor and previously referred to himself as an Elon Musk "fanboy," has had a change of heart. Ahead of Tesla's annual meeting, Koguan voted against restoring Musk's $50 billion compensation package, which was eliminated by a Delaware judge earlier this year.

Koguan, with an estimated net worth of $5.9 billion according to Forbes and the founder of IT provider SHI International, also voted his 27.7 million Tesla shares against incorporating the company in Texas, new board terms for Musk, his brother Kimbal, and James Murdoch, and retaining PricewaterhouseCoopers as the company's accounting firm.

The billionaire investor's decision to vote against Musk is based on his belief that the CEO has "abandoned Tesla for his other companies," Koguan told Forbes in an email. "He is temporarily back to claim his $55 billion ransom money. I am broken-hearted," he added, expressing his disappointment in Musk's leadership.

This marks a significant shift in Koguan's stance, as he previously expressed his admiration for Musk, telling Forbes in 2021, "I would say he is the only person I really respect on Earth."

Tesla's shares have declined by approximately 30% this year amidst slowing EV sales and the company's largest job cuts in its history, affecting more than 14,000 employees worldwide. Musk has also prioritized focusing Tesla's business on selling robotaxi rides, despite the company appearing to lag behind competitors like Alphabet's Waymo in autonomous driving technology.

Koguan criticized Musk's leadership, stating, "Lately, I've discovered Tesla has one shareholder, a one-person (board of directors) and one tyrant CEO. I tried to reach out, but he doesn't listen to anyone. Only to his own loud voices in his head."

Tesla Chair Robyn Denholm has been urging shareholders to support restoring Musk's 2018 compensation package and moving the company's incorporation from Delaware to Texas. However, Koguan's vote against these proposals, along with his substantial shareholding, could significantly impact the outcome of the upcoming annual meeting.

The billionaire's change of heart highlights the growing discontent among some Tesla investors regarding Musk's leadership and the company's direction. As Tesla faces challenges in the competitive EV market and navigates the aftermath of Musk's compensation package being eliminated, the upcoming annual meeting will be closely watched by shareholders and industry observers alike.