Tesla CEO Elon Musk capped an interesting week. He did so by tweeting out “Tesla stock price is too high imo (in my opinion)” Friday morning, and shares immediately fell 10%, wiping out nearly $15 billion in market cap in just a few hours.
It was the latest bizarre antic for Musk who earlier in the week cursed and called the stay-at-home order “fascism” during the Tesla earnings call, and followed that up the next day by interrupting a NASA conference call when a reporter asked NASA’s administrator about Musk’s COVID-19 comments. Musk had previously tweeted in early March “The coronavirus panic is dumb.”
Without being introduced on the call, Musk responded to the reporter “I think this is a different subject,” he said. “Wrong press conference, move on.”
Friday’s tweet about the Tesla share price came during a string of tweets on different topics and subjects. Some of those topics including lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner. Others say he was selling all his physical possessions. Another say that his girlfriend is mad at him.
Musk started the week by tweeting “FREE AMERICA NOW” on Tuesday evening. Also, during Tesla’s earnings call on Wednesday, he said the shelter-in-place orders in California were “fascist” and that government officials should “give people back their (expletive) freedom.”
“The expansion of shelter-in-place, or as we call it, forcibly imprisoning people in their homes, against all their constitutional rights, is, in my opinion, breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong, and not why people came to America and built this country,” Musk said. “What the (expletive)!”
He continued, “If somebody wants to stay in the house that’s great. They should be allowed to stay in the house and they should not be compelled to leave. But to say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do… this is fascist. This is not democratic. This is not freedom. Give people back their (expletive) freedom.”
Thursday’s outburst during the NASA conference call was related to Musk’s tweets that seemed to downplay the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. A reporter asked NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine his thoughts on Musk’s COVID-19 comments. However, Musk, the founder of SpaceX, quickly interrupted to tell the reporter to “move on.”
Friday’s much more devastating Tweet-storm could get Musk into even more hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As part of his 2018 settlement over the “taking Tesla private at $420” tweet, Musk agreed to have all his social media posts reviewed prior to publishing them.
When a Wall Street Journal reporter asked Musk if he was joking, or if he had the “Tesla stock is too high imo” tweet approved, Musk simply responded “No.”
Investors on both sides of the Tesla debate are waiting to see what action of any the SEC could bring against Musk for the tweet. Some believe the tweet was in clear violation of the 2018 settlement. Meanwhile, others say while uncommon, it’s not illegal for a company CEO to publicly discuss their company’s share price even if investors are harmed by the comments.
One thing is for sure, Musk continues to prove he’s the greatest showman alive.