Elon Musk said Tuesday that while SpaceX and Tesla maintain major operations in California today, he has personally moved to Texas.
“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 at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council summit, repeating an analogy he has used many times before to express his displeasure with California’s regulatory environment.
Musk, who has clashed with regulators in Fremont, California, this year, and in Brandenburg, Germany, this week, said he views government as “monopoly that cannot go bankrupt.” He also said, “regulations are immortal” and that government should think more about removing them not just making new rules.
Like Musk, President Donald Trump promoted the idea of reducing regulation with an executive order he signed in 2017 directing federal agencies to repeal two existing regulations for every new one they put in place.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO said what government should do for business is “just get out of the way.”
Asked directly if he had moved away from California, Musk gave a long preface to his answer.
“First of all, Tesla and SpaceX obviously have massive operations in California. In fact, it’s worth noting that Tesla is the last car company still manufacturing cars in California. SpaceX is the last aerospace company still doing significant manufacturing in California,” he said. “So. There used to be over a dozen car plants in California. And California used to be the center of aerospace manufacturing! My companies are the last two left…That’s a very important point to make.”
Then he confirmed, “For myself, yes I have moved to Texas.”
Musk also remarked that while California is great in some ways, he thinks that Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area have “outsized influence in the world,” that will likely be reduced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has driven some investors and executives out of the state, and forced companies to figure out how to manage a remote workforce.
However, Musk noted, “Social media is still very much centered in Silicon Valley. We need to be concerned about mind viruses. You know, just memes that travel very quickly through social media that may or may not be correct.” He qualified that with a nod to free speech, saying: “We want to encourage a healthy dialogue. If there’s someone out there who wants to shut down one side of a debate or the other we should resist that.”
CNBC reported last week that Musk told friends he intended to relocate to Texas and was already spending time there.
Musk, the world’s second-wealthiest person behind Amazon’s Jeff Bezos spends most of his time in Texas between Austin, where Tesla and his tunnel start-up Boring Co. have operations, and a coastal village called Boca Chica, home to a SpaceX facility. SpaceX started operating in Texas in 2003.
The move makes Musk part of a broader tech exodus from Silicon Valley, with many executives and venture capitalists moving to Texas. It could also save Musk billions of dollars in taxes. The CEO’s pay package, approved by Tesla’s board and shareholders in 2018, means he’s getting significant stock awards based on Tesla’s market-cap increases and hitting financial targets.