After threatening a move for several months, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he’s finally leaving California for Texas.
As CNN reports, Musk broke the news to Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Matt Murray at the paper’s CEO Council annual summit Tuesday. While Musk admitted that, “There are a lot of things that are really great about California”—where Tesla and Musk’s extraterrestrial venture, SpaceX, are both headquartered—he said he feels the Golden State has grown complacent in its success.
“If a team has been winning for too long, they do tend to get a little complacent, a little entitled and then they don’t win the championship anymore. California has been winning for too long,” Musk said. “And I think they’re taking them for granted a little bit” (“them” being business people and innovators).
The mercurial billionaire, who last month became the second richest person in the world, has had his share of troubles with California of late. When authorities in Alameda forced him to shut down his Fremont factory in May for failing to follow COVID-19 protocols, he quickly took it upon himself to reopen without permission, which then led to several workers testing positive for the virus.
At the time Musk tweeted, “Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be [dependent] on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA.”
Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependen on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2020
Musk then struck a deal to sell off much of his personal California real estate for more than $100 million.
In announcing his move, Musk pointed to his businesses concerns in the Lone Star state, including his spaceship and rocket program, which he believes will eventually carry a human to Mars.
“We’ve got the Starship development here in South Texas, where I am right now,” he said. “And then we’ve got big factory developments just outside Austin.”
That location, Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas, will manufacture the Tesla Semi Cybertruck, as well as the Model 3 and Y for buyers in the Eastern U.S.
Musk is not the first celebrity to flee south from California amid the pandemic. After signing a $100 million deal to move his podcast from YouTube to Spotify, Joe Rogan revealed in July that he was also moving himself and his family to Austin, Texas, from Los Angeles, where he had lived since the 1990s.
“I just want to go somewhere in the center of the country,” he explained. “Somewhere it’s easier to travel to both places, somewhere where you have a little bit more freedom.”
There is also no state income or capital gains tax for individuals in Texas.
Right-wing grump Ben Shapiro relocated his entire The Daily Wire media company from L.A. to Nashville, Tennessee, this fall, saying, “The dream of California and the weather were enough to draw us all here and keep us here, even when it was hard,” he said. “But it’s hubris to think you can keep making it worse and worse for people and that somehow the idea of temperate winters will be enough to make them stay forever.”
Actor James Van Der Beek also waxed romantic about freedom when he and his family quit L.A. for Texas in October. “When I was a kid, I used to think freedom would be finally having the things I’d dreamed of having. It wasn’t,” he wrote on Instagram. “Then I thought freedom would be having no attachment to anything. It wasn’t. Now, in the midst of a move to a new state 1500 miles from any place I’ve ever lived.. I’m starting to feel like freedom is daring to love with all of your heart… and having the courage to put what you love first. I’m working on it…”
One thing Musk might not have anticipated when he made his move is the cozy attention of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who tweeted, “Texas loves jobs & we’re very glad to have you as a Texan.”
Welcome to Texas! @elonmusk
Texas loves jobs & we’re very glad to have you as a Texan. https://t.co/VDgTGJIF7Z
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 9, 2020
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