Elon Musk announced during a shareholder meeting on Thursday that Tesla would move its headquarters. “I’m excited to announce that we’re moving our headquarters to Austin, Texas,” the world’s richest person said during a shareholder meeting.
Talking about the company’s skyrocketing vehicle deliveries, he said, “I almost got arrested at one point for claiming that we’d do 5,000 a week.” Then he broke into a fake evil laugh.
The electric car maker is currently headquartered in Palo Alto, California. Tesla has already established a factory in Austin, and much of the business of Musk’s other main venture, SpaceX, happens in the Lone Star State as well.
“To be clear we will be continuing to expand our activities in California,” he said of the company’s Fremont factory. “It’s tough for people to afford houses, and people have to come in from far away… There’s a limit to how big you can scale in the Bay Area.”
Musk has both established footprint in Texas and a well-documented dislike for California laws and mores. He himself moved to Austin from Los Angeles last year. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, he called the Golden State’s preventative measures “fascist” on a Tesla earnings call. In a tweet, he wrote “the coronavirus panic is dumb.” He opened Tesla’s factory in defiance of local restrictions, and hundreds of new infections followed.
The move also comes amid the growing fallout from the state’s restrictive new abortion law. The statute prohibits abortions beyond six weeks of pregnancy and deputizes private citizens to sue anyone who assists in providing one. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the state Tuesday night that will temporarily block the law.
Following the state’s enactment of an abortion ban, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claimed in a TV interview that he counted Musk as an ally. “Elon consistently tells me that he likes the social policies in the state,” he said.
Amid blowback to those comments, Musk released a cryptic statement that obscured his feelings on the abortion laws. “In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness,” he tweeted. “That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff offered to relocate his employees from Texas in response to the ban if they felt they could not access necessary reproductive care. He tweeted Sept. 10, “Ohana if you want to move we’ll help you exit TX. Your choice.”
Earlier this week, a jury awarded $136.9 million to a former Tesla contractor, Owen Diaz, who alleged that he was subjected to rampant racism at the carmaker.
“The jury knew that this is not just for me; this verdict is for everybody that works at Tesla,” Diaz told The Daily Beast. “This is their way of putting Elon Musk on notice.”