Quantumscape, a Bill Gates-backed startup working on solid-state lithium metal batteries for electric vehicles, recently hiked the salary of its CEO Jagdeep Singh, offering him a multi-billion-dollar salary package. Shareholders of the California-based company approved a settlement involving stock options worth $2.3 billion.
The pay package was passed in a preliminary vote, and the final tally would come out later. Glass Lewis, a proxy advisory firm that has tried to steer shareholders in the other direction and reject the package, called the package being offered to the top executive “shocking”. Another advisory firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, also shared a similar opinion about the remarkable package, the report said.
The decision was taken by the shareholders during the annual shareholder meeting held on 15 December. Defending the pay package, Quantumscape wrote in a letter to shareholders, “We strongly believe in achieving challenging, difficult goals, and then focus our efforts on making it happen. They happen. That’s why.” It is we based this new award of stretch goals and we gave our key executives the ability to share the upside in a way that is commensurate with the difficulty of achieving them.”
In 2018, Tesla CEO Elon Musk became the first executive to be given a $100 million prize. Since then, large salary packages for top executives at some US startups have become commonplace.
Founded by Jagdeep Singh, Fritz Prinz and Dr Tim Holme, QuantumScape is working on the next generation of batteries that could catalyze the current shift from fossil-fueled vehicles to fully battery-powered powertrains.
The company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange as a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) on November 27, 2020 and grew rapidly (about 283 percent) by the end of the year. The solid-state lithium battery startup is backed by Bill Gates and Volkswagen. Last year, the company stood at a valuation of about $50 billion.
QuantumScape recently announced that it has achieved all of its internal milestones for 2021 and has set a developmental milestone to launch a more energy-intensive battery commercially by 2024.