Goodbye, Golden State?

New report fuels speculation that Tesla will move headquarters to Austin from California

Report fuels speculation that Tesla will move headquarters to Austin

Tesla cyber truck
Austin, home to Tesla's soon-to-be-completed Cybertruck Giga Texas factory, may soon welcome the company's HQ. Tesla/Instagram

UPDATE: Tesla made it official October 7: It’s moving its headquarters to Austin. During Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting at its under-construction manufacturing plant just east of Austin, CEO Elon Musk announced — to sustained applause from the pandemic-restricted audience — that the company would shift its headquarters from Palo Alto, California, to Austin.

It’s unclear whether the move would be immediate. He didn’t indicate where the HQ would be, although the massive new factory here potentially could house corporate offices.

Musk added that Tesla isn’t abandoning California. The company will continue to expand its factory in Fremont, California, but will expand “even more so here in Texas.” He emphasized the new plant’s close proximity to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and downtown Austin.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk relocated last year from California to Texas, splitting his time between the Gulf Coast and Austin, in conjunction with construction of the automaker’s massive factory here. Around the same time, he moved his charitable foundation to Austin. Now, word is surfacing that Tesla itself might shift its headquarters from California to Austin.

The Insider news website is the latest media outlet to weigh in on a potential move of the Tesla HQ away from Palo Alto, California. Insider notes that Tesla’s virtual-only annual shareholders meeting will be broadcast October 7 from the automaker’s $1.1 billion factory being built just east of Austin. The meeting starts at 4:30 p.m.

Tesla announced in August that it planned to hold the annual meeting at its factory in Fremont, California, but switched the site to Austin in September.

Further fueling speculation about the possible shift of the Tesla HQ to Austin is that, as Insider points out, its two most recent corporate news releases carried an Austin dateline rather than a Palo Alto dateline. Typically, publicly traded companies like Tesla use a dateline in their press releases that reflects where their headquarters is located.

This headline accompanies the Insider article, published October 6: “It looks like Elon Musk may move Tesla’s headquarters to Austin.” The article cites no sources for the speculation, though. Insider says Tesla representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.

June 2020 photo of Musk and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, both flashing the Hook ’em Horns sign, appears along with the Insider article. The photo was taken the day of Tesla’s announcement about its new factory just east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The manufacturing plant is scheduled to start full production of electric vehicles next year.

Musk threatened last year to relocate Tesla’s headquarters to Texas or Nevada after he tangled with Northern California officials over a pandemic-driven shutdown of the company’s Fremont factory.

If Tesla were to move here, it would become the third-largest publicly traded company in the Austin area based on 2020 revenue. Round Rock-based Dell Technologies and Austin-based Oracle (a recent transplant from California) posted more revenue last year than Tesla did. Tesla’s revenue in 2020 approached $12 billion, compared with Dell’s $92.2 billion and Oracle’s $39.1 billion.

Oracle isn’t the only publicly traded company that has recently swapped California for Texas. Aviat Networks moved here in 2019. A year later, Resonant and Sonim Technologies planted roots in Austin. Earlier this year, Digital Realty announced its relocation from San Francisco to Austin.

The growing prospect of Tesla relocating to Austin comes on the heels of the Forbes 400 crowning Musk, who leads Tesla and SpaceX, as the richest person in Texas and the second-richest person in the U.S.

Forbes estimated his net worth at $190.5 billion as of early September.