Tesla shares fall after Musk's spat with British diver

Sean Reid
July 18, 2018

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has faced mounting scrutiny lately.

In a now-deleted Twitter rant, Musk called a British diver who helped in the Thai cave rescue a "pedo guy."

"This has nothing to do with defending Tesla", said Erik Gordon, a business and law professor at the University of MI.

"I can't let it go".

Tesla shares closed almost three per cent down yesterday after boss Elon Musk sent a derogatory tweet about one of the British cave divers involved with the rescue of a football team in Thailand. The submarine was not used. In addition to the submarine, Musk said that technicians could pump water through the cave and provide Tesla-made battery packs to provide electricity to boost the pump rate.

The Tesla CEO hit back in a series of tweets labelling Mr Unsworth a "pedo guy" or pedophile.


Unsworth told the Guardian on Monday he was "astonished and very angry" at the online abuse he had received from a very rich tech billionaire.

Elon Musk has been on a tear this year.

Unsworth has said he is considering legal action against the billionaire entrepreneur, who is chief executive of the electric vehicle maker Tesla.

As the spike occurred, Musk gained thousands of Twitter followers.

"Yes", Unsworth said instantly.

One of Tesla's largest investors said last week that Musk should lay off Twitter and focus on the "peace and execution" of the company's production goals. "Once that fan base starts to see what kind of person they've been worshipping, they will turn on you on a dime", he said. "It's probably time, actually past time, that Musk apologize, step away from social media and lay low for awhile". "Because no one believes you any more". The diver, Vern Unsworth, had criticized Musk's effort to create a small submarine to rescue the soccer team members.


Shares of Tesla fell more than 3.5 percent on Monday, knocking nearly $2 billion off the company's market value, but the stock came back strong on Tuesday on positive news about the Model 3.

The episode also seemed to repel some of Tesla's closest backers, including alternative-energy loyalists who saw in Tesla a worthy opponent to the juggernauts of the oil and gas industries. In fact, most of the time I do say nothing. Like Uber, Tesla and SpaceX were built on their founder's larger-than-life personality.

In May, Tesla shares suffered a similar decline after another erratic performance by Musk during the company's most recent earnings call.

Furthermore, Musk insisted that his submarine (designed in consultation with "cave experts on the Internet", he wrote) would have worked. The company said in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it doesn't need to advertise because it gets so much free media attention.

Musk has since deleted the nefarious tweet.

"If he does the right thing, he can recover from this", Mr Moorhead said.


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