Elon Musk on Tuesday declined the speculation that he might step down as Tesla ’s CEO. He told at the company’s annual shareholders meeting that Tesla would start advertising. The meeting was held at Tesla’s factory site near Austin, Texas.
“Say it ain’t so,” one shareholder asked Elon Musk about stepping down as Tesla ’s leader. “It ain’t so,” he replied without further discussion.
As another shareholder suggested that Tesla try advertising, Musk replied that he was willing to do it.
“This has some merit,” he said to the shareholder in Texas. “We’ll try a little advertising and see how it goes.”
Tesla famously has avoided investing in advertising like its competitors. Instead, they relied on Musk’s ability to generate free publicity. Elon Musk has over 140 million followers on Twitter, the social media company bought for $44 billion.
Musk told shareholders that Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” software is reaching a point where it will be safer than human driving. He previously said the system will be ready this year, a promise that he has made for several years.
Tesla stated on its official website that the cars cannot drive themselves. And that humans must be ready to intervene at all times. The company also has been forced by U.S. safety regulators to recall the software because it did not comply with traffic laws in some cases. The problems noted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are to be fixed with an online software update.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Musk cautioned that the next 12 months could be challenging for the Austin-based company. This is largely because of rising interest rates which have increased the cost of the car.
“Tesla is not immune to the global economic environment,” he said, stating that the company will get through this period and continue to do well.
He talked to CNBC about the affordability, “If the car payments or your home payments go up you have less money for other things,” he said.
He told that sometimes the pain of working has been “quite excruciating.” He called his time as CEO of Twitter a “short-term distraction” and said the company needed open heart surgery to ensure its survival.
It is stable now, and he is happy to have Linda Yaccarino running Twitter. Musk said the amount of time he devotes to Twitter will be “relatively small” compared with the last six months since he bought the social media platform.
Before Musk’s talk, shareholders voted to place Tesla co-founder and former chief technology officer JB Straubel on the company’s board for the next three years. Straubel left Tesla in 2019 to start a battery materials recycling company.
Shareholders also re-elected Musk and Chairwoman Robyn Denholm back to the board.