Elon Musk to Discuss Tesla’s Banner Year Despite Pandemic, Silicon Valley’s Future

Tesla Inc.

TSLA 1.08%

Chief Executive

Elon Musk

is set to be interviewed during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council annual summit following a highly successful year for the electric-vehicle maker that, despite the coronavirus pandemic, has secured a place on the S&P 500 index as its shares skyrocket.

In an interview scheduled Tuesday with the Journal’s editor in chief, Matt Murray, Mr. Musk is expected to address how the Covid-19 crisis threatened Tesla’s ability to meet production targets and whether Silicon Valley is losing its status as a global center of technology innovation.

Startup executives and employees have fled the San Francisco Bay Area for cheaper locales since the pandemic has led to remote working conditions. Last week,

Hewlett Packard Enterprise,

whose origins trace back to the founding of Silicon Valley, has said it plans to shift its headquarters to Texas. The exodus has led many tech leaders and industry watchers to question whether the geographic region is losing relevance as a tech hub.

Mr. Musk threatened to move Tesla’s operations out of California while sparring with authorities there in May, after local shelter-in-place orders required him to shut down his lone U.S. car factory as part of measures to slow the spread of the virus. He criticized local officials at the time as “breaking people’s freedoms” by imposing the curbs.

The auto executive later filed a lawsuit against Alameda County, home of the Tesla factory, and defied local authorities by proceeding to reopen the plant, daring them to arrest him. The county eventually blessed the plant’s reopening and didn’t pursue an arrest.

Mr. Musk said last month that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was experiencing mild symptoms, after repeatedly playing down the risks of the illness and raising doubts about the accuracy of tests. He has been criticized by public-health researchers as spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told CNBC over the summer that Mr. Musk now had a Texas driver’s license, suggesting the CEO has become part of the Silicon Valley exodus. Texas has no state income tax, and Mr. Musk this year qualified for billions of dollars in stock-option compensation as part of a pay package agreement. Mr. Musk filed paperwork in late October to move his personal foundation from California to Austin, Texas, according to local records. The move was previously reported by Bloomberg.

Tesla also said earlier this year that it would build a new car plant in Austin, its second in the U.S. and first outside Silicon Valley. It is slated to start production cars next year. The auto maker said Tuesday that it would raise up to $5 billion through new sales of stock, the second time this year it is raising that amount of money to finance its expansion plans.

Mr. Musk’s other big company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, also has operations in Texas.

SpaceX launched four astronauts into orbit last month, marking the company’s first full-fledged operational mission with humans on board and beginning regularly scheduled commercial flights to the International Space Station.

Tesla, despite a temporary factory closure early in the pandemic, is on pace to deliver around 500,000 cars this year, or roughly 36% more than last year. It is also on track to achieve its first full calendar year of profitability after posting a record profit of $331 million in the third quarter.

Write to Heather Somerville at Heather.Somerville@wsj.com

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