Elon Musk has moved to Texas to focus on two big priorities for his companies: SpaceX’s new Starship spacecraft and Tesla Inc.’s new Gigafactory, currently under construction in Austin.
There also are potentially enormous tax implications for Musk, who recently became the world’s second-wealthiest person. Texas has no personal income tax, while California imposes some of the highest personal income levies in the nation on its richest residents.
“I have moved to Texas,” Musk said Tuesday, speaking in a live interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Musk, 49, has lived in the Los Angeles area, where SpaceX is headquartered, for two decades. He’s the chief executive officer of SpaceX and Tesla, which is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, and has its main factory across San Francisco Bay in Fremont, California.
Musk criticized the state in the interview, saying it had become complacent with its status as an economic giant and less attractive to him.
“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,” he said. “California’s been winning for a long time. And I think they’re taking them for granted a little bit.”
Musk moved his personal foundation to Austin from California, Bloomberg reported Monday.
SpaceX tests rocket engines in McGregor, Texas, west of Waco, and is building its massive new Starship spacecraft in Boca Chica, Texas, south of Brownsville near the Mexican border. Tesla is expanding its global operations with a new factory in Shanghai that opened last year and another being built in Berlin.
Musk, who has always been highly mobile, frequently shuttles between California, Austin and Boca Chica on his private Gulfstream G650 jet, along with frequent international trips to Berlin and China.
As Tesla’s stock has soared this year, Musk’s personal wealth has ballooned to over US$155 billion, making him the second richest person in the world after Amazon Inc.’s Jeff Bezos.
Musk’s long relationship with California soured this spring during the first wave of the coronavirus. When Alameda County shutdown orders stopped production at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, Musk defied local health officials by closing late and reopening early, blasting the rules as “fascist” on an earnings call.
He briefly sued the county and threatened to move Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters to Texas or Nevada. Musk disclosed on Twitter that he had COVID-19 himself last month.
But Musk’s relationship with California is likely to endure, and thousands of his employees work in the Golden State. He has five teenage sons with his ex-wife Justine Musk, and the two have joint custody.
--With assistance from Justin Bachman.