First, is making an announcement like that on Twitter legal?
When info like this is so closely tied to stock price, that’s tricky territory. Was Musk truthful? If not, that sort of market manipulation could be fraud, as former Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Harvey Pitt told CNBC. Also, if the intent was simply to sway the stock price, true or false, Musk could be in hot water. Thirdly, there’s the question of whether the tweet counts as “fair disclosure.” As long as investors were alerted to the fact that he’d make an announcement on Twitter, Loup Ventures managing partner Gene Munster tells The Washington Post it’s fair game, according to an SEC guideline regarding social media from 2013.
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
There’s a good chance it’ll all shake out fine, legally speaking, for Elon Musk. Still, it’s an odd move, from an admittedly odd guy. He’s not one to necessarily play by everyone else’s rules, which is part of what has made Tesla and SpaceX as successful as they are. But, still, is it irresponsible to drop something like this on social media, especially when it’s so hard to make sense of the reality on the ground? Musk’s words have consequences, for better or worse, and it really doesn’t seem like he’s sticking to his promise to reel it in.
Even if he’s 100 percent correct about having the financing lined up and his intentions are 100 percent pure, it’s understandable that this could be perceived as a stunt to raise cash, giving ammo to those with gripes against Musk or his company. It also means he has to put his money where his mouth is, but he hasn’t offered proof that he can back that up. It’s bold, to say the least, and will further galvanize both the absolute Tesla faithful and the dug-in shorters without giving the rest of us a sense that Musk and his company can avoid chaos. Well, until he proves either of the extremes right or wrong, that is.
So, what do you think? Smart move, or irresponsible?
— AutoblogGreen (@AutoblogGreen) August 7, 2018
Finally, there’s the question of whether or not Musk actually has the “funding secured,” as he says to pay for the $420 shares in order to go private. I, for one, think he does. He’s definitely not one to shy away from gutsy moves, but the brass it takes to state it as fact without proof is spectacular. It’s either a very dangerous bluff that could land Musk in serious hot water, or he does, in fact, have that winning poker hand. Despite his faults, he’s not stupid.
And how secure is “funding secured,” really? We simply don’t know yet. Not everything that’s secured remains secured, after all. I’m sure Betsy DeVos thought her yacht was secured.
Personally, I hope Musk’s statements are correct, and that going private works out well for Tesla. I want Tesla to be successful, and I want it to continue to put pressure on the traditional automakers to be competitive in the green space. I am still of the mind that Elon is the right person to lead the company; Tesla wouldn’t be the earth-shaking company we know today without him. I can also definitely see how taking it off the public market could help Musk steady the ship. If anything, these latest tweets and the market chaos they’ve left in their wake are evidence of that.
If he doesn’t take Tesla private, though, he should probably at least do so to his Twitter account.