Tencent technology news in mid-2018, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, randomly tweeted on his personal social media platform, causing an uproar. This not only damaged his personal reputation, but also nearly lost his seat in the company.
Musk arrived in Spain in late June, just in time for his brother jinbar’s wedding, and he also had the necessary breathing opportunity. Over the past few months, his friends have become more and more worried about musk, because he always refuses the invitation of his friends and repeatedly tells them that Tesla factory needs him.
There is no doubt about the importance of Musk’s achievements, but he has no time to celebrate. He needs to turn his attention to an equally urgent problem: how to deliver cars to customers. Five years ago, when the factory finally solved the production problem, the offline model s could not be sold, which almost bankrupt Tesla. This time, Tesla needs to deliver far more than 4750 cars, and the goal is not just to make ends meet. Now Tesla no longer has to prove the feasibility of electric vehicles, but to make money so that it can pay bills to an increasing number of suppliers. In addition to delivering cars, Tesla also needs to open more assembly plants outside San Francisco, ready to push the company to the world, so as to obtain the sales volume and scale required to compete with traditional car companies such as general motors.
Although musk clashed over the need to relax and concentrate on the delivery issue, his attention was attracted elsewhere. At this time, he was on the verge of a public crisis, which would not only damage his reputation and distract Tesla, but also almost lead musk to lose control of the company.
Musk’s habit of tweeting on personal social media platforms seems harmless. He has been obsessed with checking his personal social media accounts all day and has caused some friction before. A few months ago, musk played a prank on April Fool’s day, implying that the company would go bankrupt, which disturbed onlookers. More than a year ago, when Tesla’s market value exceeded Ford, he also tweeted against those short sellers.
Cave rescue in Thailand
This time, an incident in Thailand attracted Musk’s attention. A youth football team is trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand. When the world is paying attention to how rescue workers save these children, musk is urged to help on personal social media platforms. He disagreed at first, but announced a few days later that his engineers would design a mini submarine to rescue the children. It was unclear whether Thai rescue workers needed such help. But musk tweeted about his rescue plan.
On his business trip, musk stopped the plane in Thailand, quickly rushed to the cave, and posted photos on his personal social media platform“ Just got back from hole 3. If necessary, the mini submarine is ready. It is made of rocket parts and named ‘wild boar’ after the children’s football team. I’m leaving here in case I need it in the future. Thailand is so beautiful, “Musk wrote in a tweet released on July 9. At that time, local rescue operations in Thailand were under way.
Musk’s submarine was never put into use. Naronsa, the person in charge of coordinating rescue operations, said the submarine was not suitable for rescue missions. Musk received a text message from his girlfriend Graeme reminding him of the statement and warning that the media were turning to attack him. Musk then contacted his staff: “I just woke up. What the hell happened? ” When the team tried to find out who narongsa was, Sam teller, Musk’s chief of staff, sent an email saying, “he is the local governor who ignored our phone.”
Musk can’t calm himself. He replied, “we need to do our best to get this guy to take back his words.”
This mood will only make things worse. A few days later, a British cave explorer named Vernon Unsworth was interviewed. He was also asked about Musk’s submarine. He called it a public relations stunt and said it was “absolutely impossible to succeed” because musk “knew nothing about the cave passage”. Musk, he said, could “stuff his submarine into a sore spot.”
The interview video soon spread. On July 15, musk was furious and sent a long string of messages on his personal social media platform to attack onsworth, including: “I’m sorry, baby. You do need it. ”
This has not only caused an uproar in public opinion. It plunged Tesla’s share price by 3.5% and evaporated nearly $2 billion from its market value. James Anderson, one of Tesla’s largest investors, said in an interview that this was a “regrettable event” and Tesla needed “peace and execution”. Mainstream media began to contact Tesla’s public relations department to ask musk if he was really suggesting that onsworth had paedophilia. A Tesla public relations team assistant wrote in a memo analyzing the event: “the media continues to report Musk’s tweets. Some reports mention that this’ outbreak ‘is less than a week after musk said he would reduce the fight on personal social media.” Many investors and analysts “believe that Musk’s remarks have exacerbated their concerns and that he has distracted attention from Tesla’s main business,” the memo said
The next morning, July 17, teller tried to reason with musk and said it was time to apologize. Tler told musk that he had communicated with important figures of the company, including board member Antonio Gracias, chief financial officer Deepak Ahuja and general counsel Todd Maron. These people agreed that musk should apologize and leave the personal social media platform. ” Taylor even drafted a letter of apology without authorization. He told musk: “if you openly admit your mistakes and show your concern for employees and the company’s mission, you will get more love and respect.”
Musk responded an hour later“ After a sleep, I’m not satisfied with the proposed method. ” Musk worried that a quick apology after Tesla’s share price fell would be considered hypocritical and cowardly“ We need to stop the panic, “Musk said.
Later that night, however, musk softened his attitude. He said in another tweet: “onsworth said a few unpleasant words before. I said these words in anger. The mini submarine was built out of goodwill and according to the needs of the diving team leader. ”
At the time of the storm caused by twitter, Tesla executives have been unable to raise their heads. By the end of June, they have completed the goal of producing 5000 model 3 electric vehicles in a week, but as musk promised, it is still a difficult battle to offline so many vehicles every week. Many delays mean Tesla has not been able to create car sales that it hopes to keep the business running. By the end of June, Tesla’s cash had fallen to $2.24 billion. Now Tesla not only needs to increase sales, but also needs to cut costs quickly.
The serious problems faced by Tesla’s financial situation have brought more pressure to musk. For a while, he hyped how much help apple and its $244 billion in cash could bring to Tesla. Everyone says that Apple has been struggling to develop cars.
Musk contacted Apple CEO Tim Cook to discuss a possible deal. Maybe Apple will be interested in buying Tesla for about $60 billion, but the price is more than twice Tesla’s valuation when cook initially asked. A person familiar with the matter said that the two sides began to prevaricate the time of the meeting, but musk soon found that cook was procrastinating and seemed not interested in the real meeting. Apple also re hired Doug field, who just changed his job from the model 3 R & D position, to help guide its own automobile project.
On August 7, musk woke up in a luxury house in Los Angeles and came across a report revealing Tesla’s secret. It is reported that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has purchased $2 billion worth of shares in Tesla, making it one of the company’s largest shareholders. A few minutes later, when musk went to the airport to fly to Tesla super factory in Nevada, he sent a key message on his personal social media platform: “I’m considering privatizing Tesla for $420. Money is no longer a problem. ”
This is the information musk often makes public without censorship. It is this information that makes his personal social media account a compulsory subject for tens of millions of people. Musk is completely unprepared for the possible impact of this tweet.
Wall Street reacted immediately. Already rising share prices began to soar. Musk almost came to the super factory in Nevada and asked the managers if they knew what 420 meant?
Usually, a listed company will notify the Nasdaq Stock Exchange to suspend trading before musk sends such information at will. This is not a matter of etiquette, but the rules of the exchange. When sending out any information that may cause substantial fluctuations in share prices, the listed company shall notify the exchange to suspend trading at least 10 minutes in advance to give investors time to digest new information. But Musk’s tweets caught them off guard, and Tesla didn’t say anything. Nasdaq Stock Exchange employees crazy contact Tesla.
But it’s no use. Tesla’s head of investor relations was also caught off guard. He texted Musk’s office director, teller, and said, “is this text legal?” Reporters are not too big, one of them commented: “what a tweet!” Another user directly emailed musk: “are you fooling around?”
35 minutes after the tweet was sent, Deepak Ahuja, Tesla’s chief financial officer, sent a text message to musk, saying, “Elon, I believe you have considered how to conduct more in-depth exchanges with employees and investors on the reasoning and wording of the tweet. Would it help if Sarah (PR Director), Todd (general counsel) and I helped you draft a blog post or employee email? ” Musk responded that was great.
But the next day, the securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched an investigation.
Musk’s approach is basically in line with his previous routine of managing Tesla: first announce something, and then find a way to achieve it. The problem is that as the CEO and chairman of a listed company, his public statement about Tesla carries more weight. Deliberately lying about the company’s business will be prosecuted. Considering that Musk’s tweets were on a whim and a few words didn’t seem to have been fully considered, many people immediately began to doubt Musk’s motivation to post without authorization. Usually, listed companies will introduce privatization transactions only after layers of review, and relevant statements will be released after lawyers conduct full analysis. However, after musk announced the news, Tesla stepped up the formation of a team to evaluate the company’s privatization transaction.
Musk tried to calm everything, but he added fuel to the fire. He said in a blog post that the details of the transaction are far from complete and everything will be announced in due course“ It is too early to do so, “Musk wrote“ I will continue to discuss with Saudi funds, and I am also discussing with some other investors, because I still hope Tesla can continue to have a broad investor base. ” As for the so-called “capital is no longer a problem” in the tweet, musk explained that he met with the Saudi fund manager at the end of July. At that time, he “said he would provide funds for Tesla’s privatization transaction”.
He concluded that “if the plan is finally submitted”, the board of directors of the company will consider it, and shareholders still have the opportunity to vote after it is adopted.
Such a statement will only plunge Wall Street into greater chaos, leading to a sharp drop in Tesla’s share price. There are rumors that musk may not be able to survive this mistake. It was heard that at Musk’s request, the financier Jeffrey Epstein began to prepare a list of candidates for Tesla’s chairman. On August 16, 2018, Epstein was interviewed at his home in Manhattan, provided that the content was “not public”. But Epstein was evasive.
The media also contacted musk, and musk exploded directly. He complained to Julianna Glover, a senior public relations consultant, “Epstein is one of the worst people on earth. He actually told the media that he is working with Tesla and me in privatization. Under this guise, he poured out his’ worries’ about me to them. It’s too bad. ” Musk denied Epstein’s statement on the phone. However, after the call, musk poured bitter water into the reporter, described the difficulties faced in the production of model 3 in recent months, and said he missed his brother’s wedding and complained that he was still laying on the floor of the factory on his birthday.
As a result, a report entitled “Musk details the ‘painful’ loss caused to individuals by Tesla chaos” came out. The article said musk was emotional and “choked many times” in the interview. Musk talked about his use of sleeping pills to solve sleep problems, and some board members are said to be worried about it. They claim it also stimulated musk to tweet late at night.
Musk just wants to end all this“ Do they have nothing else to write? ” He asked the PR consultant“ It’s tiring to see yourself on the news! ”
Musk’s behavior in the past year has only disturbed many people, but his recent mistakes have put him in trouble. Investors were frightened. Tesla’s share price plunged nearly 9% the next day. Wall Street analysts began to lower their expectations for the company and told investors they thought Tesla’s stock was overvalued. As a close ally of musk, Tesla board members are also in a difficult situation. If they turn a blind eye to recent events, they may also be held accountable.
On Thursday, 16 days after Musk’s privatization message, Tesla’s board flew to the Fremont plant in California to discuss developments and solutions with a small group of consultants and lawyers. The consultant and the lawyer presented the plan and left the room. The board’s attention immediately turned to musk. What does he think?
Musk said that based on the information collected, he would withdraw his previous remarks. Tesla will continue to be listed“ In my opinion, Tesla’s value will rise sharply in the coming months and years, which may make it impossible for any investor to complete privatization, “Musk said in a subsequent email“ If not now, maybe never. ”
Screwed up again
This marks the end of the most turbulent two weeks in Tesla’s history. Although musk may want to take back his tweets and move on, he has pushed himself into a corner. Now musk must convince the securities and Exchange Commission that when he released the news, he had actually raised funds for the transaction and did not mislead investors. The SEC acted quickly and musk and other board members will face an investigation in the coming days.
But musk did not stop on his personal social media platform. The controversy came from his interaction with drew olanoff, a silicon valley veteran. After some interaction, musk again mentioned the controversial cave Rescue Incident in Thailand on August 29. At that time, he unsubstantiated accused angsworth, a diver involved in Thai cave rescue, of being a paedophile.
This time, musk mentioned the old story again in his interaction with olangov: “don’t you think it’s strange that he didn’t sue me? He can enjoy free legal services. ”
Musk’s insinuation on onsworth has attracted widespread criticism. He immediately realized that he was in trouble. Glover, a public relations consultant, suggested that he conduct a formal interview “to eliminate nonsense and groundless speculation about your mental state.” Glover wants musk to appear in public in a way that looks decisive, funny and self-conscious. Musk introduced himself to the comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast the Joe Rogan experience.
It’ll be arranged in two days. Glover suggested that musk Logan’s interview could last for hours“ Joe won’t interrupt you too many times, so he will let you play freely, “she told musk that she needs to discuss with a lawyer what Logan should say if he asks about the ongoing investigation of the sec. In addition, if Logan asks onsworth again, she implores musk not to answer. She wrote: “please, please, please, if there is a topic about Thai divers, say that you think you have caused enough trouble in this area and won’t say any more.”
The interview began later in the day. Musk looked in good spirits wearing a black T-shirt with the words “colonize Mars”. In many ways, Logan is Musk’s perfect partner, allowing him to talk in detail about his interests in everything from space travel to tunneling. As night fell, Logan and musk began to drink whisky. At the end of the nearly three-hour interview, Logan handed musk a marijuana. After a conversation, he smoked in public.
The next day, Musk’s picture appeared in the newspapers. For those who watch the interview, it is unclear whether musk or his company can get out of this haze（ (compiled by Tencent technology / Jiao Han)