Elon Musk is a CEO in triplicate: It's the title he has at Tesla, SpaceX, and now Twitter. But as he tells it, he'd prefer the count to be zero. Musk said as much from the witness stand Wednesday while in a Delaware court where he was battling a lawsuit from Tesla shareholders. Those shareholders sued over what they say is Musk's excessive compensation package—it could be worth more than $55 billion—and the reports on Musk's testimony are glomming on to Musk's comment that "I frankly don't want to be the CEO of any company." But he didn't exactly downplay his importance, and rather explained why that title doesn't match what he does.
To wit, Musk had this to say, per CNBC: "At SpaceX it’s really that I'm responsible for the engineering of the rockets and Tesla for the technology in the car that makes it successful. So, CEO is often viewed as somewhat of a business focused role but in reality, my role is much more that of an engineer developing technology and making sure that we develop breakthrough technologies and that we have a team of incredible engineers who can achieve those goals. It’s my experience that great engineers will only work for a great engineer. That is my first duty, not that of CEO." As for Twitter, "I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time."
In fact, Musk said he thought "the fundamental organizational restructuring will be done this week," per the Washington Post—though that comment comes after a midnight email sent to the remaining Twitter employees that asked them to commit to being "hardcore" by 5pm ET Thursday or leave the company. Plaintiff Richard Tornetta took issue with Tesla approving Musk's gigantic pay package despite Musk directing some of his attention to SpaceX. Reuters points out that Musk's Twitter involvement is set to magnify that concern. On Monday, Musk tweeted that he will be "working & sleeping" at Twitter "until the org is fixed." In Reuters' reporting, that "has some Tesla investors worried about his capacity to focus on his role as CEO of the world's most valuable carmaker." (More Elon Musk stories.)