Who Owns Tesla: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Article Teaser: Who Owns Tesla: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) is an electric car manufacturer that single-handedly changed the trajectory of the automotive industry. It makes money primarily by selling electric cars but also sells other products utilizing its battery technology. Its CEO is nobody else than Elon Musk. So, who are Tesla’s largest shareholders, and who controls the voting power?

The largest shareholder of Tesla, Inc. is Elon Musk, with a 17% ownership share, followed by Vanguard (6%) and BlackRock (5%). A notable shareholder is also Larry Ellison, who owns 1% of the company.

 Tesla's Largest Shareholders (Dec 2021)
Shareholder Ownership Voting Power
Elon Musk 16.7% 16.7%
Vanguard 6.0% 6.0%
BlackRock 5.1% 5.1%
Larry Ellison 1.5% 1.5%
Other 70.6% 70.6%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

Tesla largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart) Tesla largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart)

As you can see from the table and visuals above, the top shareholder of Tesla is its CEO and early investor, Elon Musk. Despite massive stock option awards he received, his stake is gradually decreasing as he sells stock to fund his other business ventures.

Another notable investor is Larry Ellison, co-founder and former CEO of Oracle. He was also on Tesla’s board since 2018 but left in 2022.

You won’t find original Tesla founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning on the list. They both claim that they are still both Tesla shareholders, but their ownership share is tiny.

In this article, I will dive more into who Tesla’s largest shareholders are, how many shares and votes they have, and how much their stake is worth. I will also explore some other topics related to its ownership structure.

If you are interested, you can also explore who are the largest shareholders in other companies like Amazon, Meta(Facebook), Microsoft, Alphabet(Google), or Apple.

🕹️ Who Owns Tesla (TSLA) and Who Has Control?

The chart below depicts both the ownership and voting power of different shareholders. In Tesla’s case, you can see that ownership share equals voting power.

Tesla largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Tesla has only one class of shares, which means that all shareholders have the same rights, and each share has the same amount of votes.

The largest shareholder is Elon Musk, but he does not have majority control of the company. Despite that, he has an outsized influence on Tesla as a major shareholder and CEO.

Musk’s ownership stake in Tesla decreased over the years as Tesla raised more outside capital. Just before Tesla’s IPO in 2010, Musk owned 36% of the company, which was reduced to 29.05% after the IPO. As Tesla raised more capital after its initial IPO, Musk’s stake decreased further.

Musk was also a large seller of Tesla stocks recently, probably as a way to fund its Twitter acquisition. On the other hand, he received a huge pile of stock options as part of its CEO performance award that he exercised.

An interesting fact is that roughly half of Musk’s stake in Tesla is pledged as collateral for his personal loans.

🗳️ Breakdown of Tesla’s Outstanding Shares and Votes by Top Shareholders

Tesla, Inc. had a total of 1,033 million outstanding shares as of December 2021. The following table shows how many shares each Tesla’s large shareholder holds.

 Tesla's Outstanding Shares by Shareholder
In millions of shares as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Class B Class C Total % Share
Elon Musk 173 - - 173 16.7%
Vanguard 62 - - 62 6.0%
BlackRock 53 - - 53 5.1%
Larry Ellison 15 - - 15 1.5%
Other 730 - - 730 70.6%
Total (# millions) 1,033 - - 1,033 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

There were 1,033 million votes distributed among shareholders of Tesla, Inc.. The table below shows the total number of votes for each large shareholder.

 Tesla's Vote Control by Shareholder
In millions of votes as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Class B Class C Total % Share
Elon Musk 173 - - 173 16.7%
Vanguard 62 - - 62 6.0%
BlackRock 53 - - 53 5.1%
Larry Ellison 15 - - 15 1.5%
Other 730 - - 730 70.6%
Total (# millions) 1,033 - - 1,033 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

You can see that there is no difference between shares and votes, thanks to Tesla having only a single class of shares.

💵 Breakdown of Tesla’s Market Value by Shareholder

The following table summarizes how much is each shareholder’s stake in Tesla, Inc. worth.

However, keep in mind that a stake in Tesla could be just one part of their portfolio, and their total worth could be bigger, thanks to other investments. It could also be lower if they have debts.

 Tesla's Market Value by Shareholder
Market value in billions $ as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Class B Class C Total % Share
Elon Musk $182 - - $182 16.7%
Vanguard $66 - - $66 6.0%
BlackRock $56 - - $56 5.1%
Larry Ellison $16 - - $16 1.5%
Other $771 - - $771 70.6%
Total ($ billions) $1,092 - - $1,092 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

Let’s now look at each Tesla shareholder individually.

📒 Who Are the Largest Shareholders of Tesla, Inc.

Let’s now go through the list of the largest shareholders of Tesla, Inc. one by one and look at who they are, how many shares they own, what is their voting power, and how much is their stake in Tesla worth.

#1 Elon Musk

Elon Musk holds 17% of Tesla’s shares which makes him its largest shareholder.

Tesla largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Elon Musk owns 173 million Tesla shares, representing 173 million shareholder votes. The market value of Elon Musk’s stake in Tesla was $182 billion as of December 2021.

Elon Reeve Musk is an iconic CEO and significant investor in Tesla, SpaceX, and other businesses. He recently added to the list also Twitter, where he is doing quite a radical cleanup. He is one of the most wealthy people on the planet.

Musk’s first venture was Zip2, which he co-founded in 1995. He exited in 1999 with a $22 million payout.

After that, he founded X.com online payment company that later merged with Confinity, co-founded by Peter Thiel. The company was later renamed PayPal. In 2002, Paypal was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion, and Musk received a $175.8 million payout.

SpaceX , another of Musk’s ventures, was founded in 2002. After several failures, they finally succeeded in launching Falcon 1 rocket in 2008. A subsequent contract from NASA saved the company from possible bankruptcy. The company has thrived since then and is now a clear leader in the field.

Tesla was incorporated in 2003, and although Musk was not the original founder, he joined shortly after as a lead investor in 2004 and was an instrumental force in Tesla’s success. Conflict with Martin Eberhard, Tesla’s founder, and first CEO, led to Musk pushing him out. Later in 2008, Musk became the CEO of Tesla.

During several interviews, Musk recalled the year 2008 as “The Worst Year of My Life.” Tesla and SpaceX were fighting for their survival, and he was in the middle of a divorce. He was also essentially out of money. All the money from the PayPal sale was gone.

Tesla and SpaceX narrowly survived, and the US government played some role here. SpaceX got a contract from NASA, and a $465 million loan for Tesla from the US Department of Energy was also helpful.

There were a few other critical years ahead of Musk, mainly thanks to Tesla trying to ramp up production and become profitable, and there might be a few of them still on, given his risk-taking attitude.

#2 Vanguard

Vanguard holds 6% of Tesla’s shares which makes it its second-largest shareholder.

Tesla largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Vanguard owns 62 million Tesla shares, representing 62 million shareholder votes. The market value of Vanguard’s stake in Tesla was $66 billion as of December 2021.

Vanguard (The Vanguard Group) is one of the largest asset managers in the world. It manages other people’s money through its mutual funds and exchange-traded funds and also offers other related investing and financial planning services.

Vanguard differs from other large asset managers by having no actual “owner .” Officially Vanguard says that its investors own it since its funds own it, and Vanguard fund investors own those funds.

However, the actual decision power is in the hands of Vanguard’s insiders since the ownership is diluted over millions of investors worldwide.

Vanguard has significant influence over the largest public companies. Thanks to its size, Vanguard usually belongs to the largest shareholders in those companies and has considerable power at their shareholder meetings. This is especially true if ownership is diluted.

Vanguard representatives make the calls about which shareholder proposal to support or not, even though Vanguard is not the ultimate owner of those stocks and they belong to their clients.

It means that just a few people in charge of the largest asset managers have significant sway over many publicly traded companies. They are usually the median investors that can push or kill many proposals. As passive investing became more popular and the asset management market more concentrated, this became quite a concerning issue.

  • Several terms were coined to describe this issue. Some call it asset manager capitalism, and popular is also the power of twelve. Financial Times even put together who exactly those twelve people might be.

  • Vanguard and other large fund managers are trying to address those concerns by having public policies describing how they are exercising their voting power. But as you can imagine, this is still a situation full of conflicts of interest.
  • Evidence shows that big asset managers usually vote together with management.

#3 BlackRock

BlackRock holds 5% of Tesla’s shares which makes it its third-largest shareholder.

Tesla largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

BlackRock owns 53 million Tesla shares, representing 53 million shareholder votes. The market value of BlackRock’s stake in Tesla was $56 billion as of December 2021.

BlackRock, Inc. is the world’s largest asset manager, with assets under management of $10 trillion. BlackRock is not only an asset manager, but it also provides other asset managers and corporations with its Aladdin portfolio management software.

BlackRock is a publicly traded company, and its largest shareholders are its competitors, including BlackRock itself. Not directly but through their passive and active funds. The largest shareholder is Vanguard.

A similar situation is also true in the opposite direction because BlackRock is a significant shareholder in many of its publicly traded competitors and other large institutions, making the whole thing even more eyebrow-raising.

This circular ownership between Vanguard, BlackRock, and other large asset managers, amplifies the issue often raised about the power of these large asset managers over public companies since they usually belong to the most significant shareholders.

  • BlackRock and other large asset managers do not invest their own money, but they have significant voting power that, in most cases, is not passed through to the underlying investors. Therefore, BlackRock itself and its representatives have significant sway over decisions in those companies.

  • In the case of Blackrock, this influence is personified in the form of its CEO Larry Fink, who is a powerful figure with close ties in the FED and US government.

  • Adding to these concerns is evidence that BlackRock and other asset managers usually vote in favor of management proposals.

  • Recently, large asset managers started to be more sympathetic to different climate and environmental-related proposals and even supported activists that went against the management’s wishes. BlackRock was particularly aggressive in this change. Another proof of the power these companies have.

#4 Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison holds 1% of Tesla’s shares.

Tesla largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Larry Ellison owns 15 million Tesla shares, representing 15 million shareholder votes. The market value of Larry Ellison’s stake in Tesla was $16 billion as of December 2021.

Larry Ellison (Lawrence J. Ellison) is a significant shareholder and former CEO of Oracle Corporation, an enterprise software company. He co-founded Oracle in 1977 and turned it into a large corporation.

Ellison resigned as Oracle CEO in 2017 and currently serves as Oracle’s chairman of the board and chief technology officer.

He joined the Giving Pledge.

❔ Are Tesla Founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning Still Tesla Shareholders?

Tesla’s original founders, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, are still Tesla shareholders, but their stakes in the company are tiny.

Because their stakes are small and they are not even active in Tesla for a long time, they do not need to disclose their ownership. However, they both claimed in recent interviews that they are still Tesla shareholders and also that they are not billionaires, so we know that their stakes are tiny now.

Martin Eberhard was cofounder and Tesla’s first CEO until 2007, when Elon Musk pushed him out. Eberhard claims that he has a “relatively small” stake in Tesla and also that he: “sold a good chunk of my stock a long time ago.”

When he left Tesla, Eberhard had a “somewhat below” 5% stake. His stake in the company decreased both naturally as a result of more additional capital raised by Tesla and also as a result of selling a “good chunk” of his stake.

Eberhard was not mentioned in Tesla’s 2010 IPO documents as a shareholder.

Tesla’s Co-founder Marc Tarpennin served as CFO and Vice President of Engineering at Tesla. He also claimed that he still is a shareholder of Tesla based on a 2019 interview by CNBC that you can check out below.

Tarpenning held onto his stake tighter than Eberhard. We can see from Tesla’s prospectus that Tarpening still had a 1.1% stake after Tesla’s IPO.

After IPO, their stakes decreased as a result of further dilution because Tesla continued to issue new stocks.

They also probably sold a sizable amount of their shares shares some time ago because both claim they are not billionaires, which is only possible if they sold a significant part of their stake before Tesla stock surged in 2020 and 2021. None of them could, therefore, have a stake higher than roughly 0.2%.

❔ Does Mercedes-Benz (Daimler) Own Tesla Inc.?

Mercedes-Benz Group AG (at the time Daimler AG) currently does not own a stake in Tesla Inc. However, Daimler acquired nearly a 10% stake in Tesla in 2009 and sold it fully in 2014.

Daimler AG invested in just below 10% of Tesla in 2009 for a reported $50 million, and Mercedes-Benz got a seat on Tesla’s board (through Herbert Kohler). The investment was made through Daimler’s subsidiary Blackstar Investco LLC.

Daimler AG then sold 40% of its stake in Blackstar lnvestco LLC to Aabar Investments, an Abu Dhabi-based investment company.

Mercedes-Benz even used some of the Tesla components in several of their EV projects, although their other cooperations predate the investment.

Part of the deal was an agreement that Tesla would inform Daimler when other car manufacturers approached it with acquisition proposals and gave Daimler the right to give a counteroffer. Also, Musk committed not to sell his stocks to other car manufacturers.

In 2014, Daimler sold its remaining Tesla stake for a reported $780 million.

❔ Does Toyota Own a Stake in Tesla Inc.?

Toyota currently does not own a stake in Tesla Inc., but it did invest around $50 million in Tesla in 2010, shortly after Tesla’s IPO. It represented around a 3 % stake assuming the IPO price of $17 per share.

The investment was part of the cooperation, where Tesla would take over the Fremont plant, and companies would cooperate on Model S production.

At the time, Tesla was already in another investment-cooperation deal with Mercedes/Benz (Daimler).

Toyota’s partnership (similar to the Daimler partnership) did not last long, and in 2014 Toyota reduced its stake and completely exited in 2016.

❔ Are Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin Tesla Shareholders?

Both Larry Page and Sergey Brin were early investors in Tesla. They both participated in Tesla’s Series C funding round in 2006. The total amount invested in that round was $40 million. However, it is unclear if they are still shareholders. If they are, their stake is small.

Larry and Sergey were not to be seen even in the initial shareholder list of Tesla during its IPO in 2010. This means their stake was small, or they reduced it before Tesla’s IPO. Of course, it is not unheard of that people invest through some intermediary asset manager, in which case it becomes even more unclear.

There is also an unconfirmed report (a better name for “rumor”) that Musk was negotiating the acquisition of Tesla by Google when he was facing issues in 2013. In the end, Tesla solved their problems and grew on its own, and Musk got out of the deal.

Again, this is not confirmed. I just entertain it as a plausible possibility.

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Other Resources

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