Opinion: Why does prominent Tesla investor want Elon Musk to put him on the board?

Ross Gerber is a longtime Tesla Inc. fan because he’s been vocal about the electric car company on Twitter. well known in certain circles as an investor.

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The stock has fallen sharply in recent months as Chief Executive Elon Musk sells shares and turns his attention to his newer toy, Twitter Inc., while Gerber has changed its tune a bit. While the president and CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Investment Advisors still believes in Tesla’s future, he has also become somewhat of an activist investor, which he hopes will lead to a seat of power at the company, specifically a seat on the board of directors. .

Gerber launched a campaign to be added to Tesla’s board through new Securities and Exchange Commission policies for universal proxy cards. Gerber has skin in the game for Tesla: His clients said they had $100 million invested in the company at one point, and he said his fund managed $1.7 billion in assets as of March 31, 2021. the company’s website — decreased by 40%.

This comes after years of high Tesla stock prices. Since Musk took over Twitter in October and juggled running both companies, investors have weighed in on Tesla, particularly its stock price. Tesla shares had their worst month, quarter and year to close out 2022 as Musk sold shares and Tesla cut prices and missed fourth-quarter delivery expectations.

“When he sold the stock at $200, he broke that kind of stock,” Gerber said. “I trade stocks every day, he broke stocks. It burned from the point of resistance and everyone saw it.”

Gerber said the steep decline gave short sellers more fodder, but he argued there was still plenty of room for upside.

“The gap between its performance as a company and its shareholders is huge, and that creates an opportunity for investors, and we’re going to take advantage of that,” Gerber told MarketWatch. “But it’s also very painful for small investors who put all their money in Tesla stock. We meet with people who have 100% of their funds in Tesla all the time.”

As for his efforts to join the Tesla board, Gerber said he wanted to join so the board could better communicate with investors and the media. He cited Musk’s sale of billions of dollars in Tesla stock to help finance his $44 billion purchase of Twitter as a big area where the company needs to reach out to investors or organize a stock buyback plan. rapid decline in stocks.

Gerber said it is currently working on the universal proxy card (UPC) submission and notification to the company. Under the SEC’s new rules, effective for annual meetings held after August 31, 2022, stockholders making nominations must “require holders of at least 67% of the voting power of the shares entitled to vote in the election. .” Using Universal Proxy Cards “allows non-management-backed proposals and candidates to more easily seek shareholder approval,” said Stephen Diamond, an associate professor of law at Santa Clara University.

“I think I’ve already made an impact, given that the Tesla BOD is already trending,” Gerber said. “I think everyone can forget about it by June, if Elon would just listen to me for five minutes, I could fix the whole situation. People want to like him.”

Unfortunately, while Gerber is probably one of the most prominent Tesla bulls on Twitter, he will be remembered as a dissident shareholder unless management supports his efforts. He also touts his relationship with the media, although as a board member, board rules won’t allow him to speak directly to the media. However, the company does not have a media relations representative. Perhaps if Gerber wins a seat on the council, he can advocate for that job to be reinstated.

Gerber has not acted as a dissident shareholder so far. Despite his recent actions, he has supported Musk while the CEO lied about Tesla’s path to self-driving cars, bought Solar City for his own benefit, and consistently shot the company in the foot on social media, especially on Twitter. .

Tesla’s board is known for rubber-stamping all of Musk’s edicts, so it seems unlikely that an uncritical long-time investor like Gerber would have any different effect if it gets a shareholder vote. Hopefully, this effort by the loud and proud Tesla bull will make Musk realize just how far he has strayed from his mission at Tesla.

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