Tesla's Board to Return $735 Million 1:00
New York (CNN) -- A Tesla investor and prominent management expert has claimed that the electric vehicle company's board of directors should suspend Elon Musk for endorsing anti-Semitic views on social media.
Jerry Braakman, president of First American Trust, is looking to Tesla's board of directors to send a message and make clear that Musk overstepped his bounds last week by agreeing with an anti-Semitic post on X (formerly Twitter) that claims Jewish communities incite "hatred against white people."
"I believe in free speech, but there is no excuse for spreading hate by a CEO of a public company," Braakman said in a statement.
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On Friday, Disney, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns CNN, and other major companies suspended advertising on Musk-owned X. The companies did not specifically say the decision was related to Musk's post, but some of his ads appeared alongside anti-Semitic messages on X, according to a report from Media Matters.
Tesla's board should suspend Musk for 30 to 60 days and require him to attend therapy or empathy training, Braakman argued.
"Neither his wealth nor his technical and entrepreneurial prowess justify his statements. It seems that he has only amplified the demons he drags along. And he screams that he needs help," Braakman said.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, dean of leadership studies at the Yale School of Management, agrees that Tesla's board should hold Musk accountable.
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"The board has a responsibility to act. He shouldn't be able to use the title of CEO. He should be suspended immediately," Sonnenfeld told CNN on Monday.
The Yale professor said that, if Musk were to serve as chief technology officer instead of CEO, the impact on the stock price shouldn't be significant.
Neither Tesla nor the company's president, Robyn Denholm, responded to requests for comment.
Who sits on Tesla's board?
Of course, Musk wields enormous influence over Tesla, which he co-founded.
Not only is Musk considered Tesla's most important person; In addition, he sits on the board of directors and is the largest individual shareholder. At the end of March, Musk owned 411 million shares, equivalent to a 13% stake, valued today at about $96 billion.
By contrast, First American, based in Santa Ana, California, owns a relatively small stake of 16,000 shares at the end of September.
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Tesla's board is led by Denholm and includes James Murdoch, venture capitalist Ira Ehrenpreis, Musk's younger brother Kimbal, and Musk himself.
"Only your board can hold you accountable. And he's got a lot of friends there," Braakman said.
"No Trust" in Board
Nell Minow, a Tesla shareholder and vice president at ValueEdge Advisors, which advises institutional investors on corporate governance matters, said Tesla's board should hire a firm to assess the impact on the carmaker's brand of Musk's "terrible behavior."
"I had been thinking about buying a Tesla, but that's off the table now. I just don't want to support him," Minow told CNN.
Minow said he has "no confidence" in the willingness of Tesla's board to exercise meaningful oversight over Musk.
"The board has many reasons to replace him as CEO. But do they have the capacity to do so? Do they have the courage to do so? The answer is no," Minow told CNN. "I'm just as worried, as a Jew, about their instability as I am about their anti-Semitism."
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Another shareholder, Ross Gerber, CEO and chairman of Gerber Kawasaki, told CNBC late last week that Musk's behavior is "absolutely outrageous" and is "destroying the brand."
"I've never had this with any company I've ever invested in, ever in my life," Gerber said.
Some prominent business leaders support Musk.
Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, who has been critical of the way Harvard and other universities have handled anti-Semitism on campus, said over the weekend that Musk is "not an anti-Semite."
"It's remarkable how quickly the world is ready to attack Musk for his impulsive comment," Ackman said in a post on X. "Musk isn't perfect, but the world is a much better place because of him."