It is a decision with a high symbolic content. Tesla boss Elon Musk announced on Thursday (October 7th) that the headquarters of the electric vehicle manufacturer, currently based in Palo Alto, California, will be moving to Austin, Texas, where the group is currently building a new factory.
“I am pleased to announce that we will be moving our headquarters to Austin”, Elon Musk said at Tesla’s annual general meeting of shareholders. He himself personally left the West Coast in 2020 and has repeatedly strongly criticized Californian authorities since the start of the pandemic for health rules he considered too strict.
That doesn’t mean Tesla is leaving the West Coast altogether, the billionaire added right away. “To be clear, we will continue to expand our business in California”including increasing production at the Fremont plant, he said.
But, the entrepreneur also remarked, “you can’t expand to infinity in the San Francisco Bay”, where the density is high, the cost of living high and traffic often difficult. While in Austin, the factory is installed “five minutes from the airport and fifteen minutes from the city center”.
A conservative state
Elon Musk had justified his personal move last year by the need to be as close as possible to the two projects which then occupied most of his time: the development of rockets by his space company SpaceX, in the south of the State. , and the construction of a car factory by Tesla, near Austin.
By announcing Thursday the installation of Tesla in Texas, Elon Musk takes the opposite view of several large American companies, which recently publicly criticized this State following the adoption of a particularly restrictive law on abortion. . The IT giant Salesforce, for example, has offered help to employees who wish to leave Texas.
But Tesla is also following the path of Oracle and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, which have set their sights on Texas in 2020. Oracle then explained that this move would be favorable to its growth and would provide more flexibility to [son] staff on where and how to work”.
Texas has also tried hard in recent years to attract businesses through tax incentives. And the state is known for the absence of income tax, an element a priori favorable to Elon Musk, the currently richest man in the world, according to the Bloomberg ranking.
With its listed university and a rich cultural life, Austin has also become an attractive place for tech companies.
Questions from shareholders on diversity
Speaking on a stage set up outside the factory under construction on the outskirts of town, in a black T-shirt with a bandana around his neck, Elon Musk said business was good for the band. Tesla announced in early October that it delivered a record number of vehicles in the third quarter, against the tide of a market weighed down by the shortage of semiconductors.
The shareholders, however, brought a small damper Thursday by voting, against the advice of the board of directors of Tesla, for a resolution asking the group to be more transparent about its practices in terms of diversity.
This vote, which has yet to be confirmed by an official count, comes a few days after the decision of a Californian jury to condemn the company to pay a black ex-employee 137 million dollars (about 119 million euros) of damages for turning a blind eye to the racism the man was experiencing in a Tesla factory.
The proposal notably asks that Tesla provide details on the distribution of employees by gender and ethnicity and that the board assess the effectiveness of the measures taken by the group in terms of recruitment or promotion.