Amid an intensifying Securities and Exchange Commission probe into a misleading Tweet that sent Tesla shares soaring, the company’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, has laid bare his innermost turmoil.
In a revealing interview with The New York Times, Musk made some effort to reassure about the Tesla’s operations, but not about his own personal state of mind.
“I thought the worst of it was over – thought it was,” he said. “The worst is over from a Tesla operational standpoint […] But from a personal pain standpoint, the worst is yet to come.”
Tesla shares fell as much as 8% in Friday trading.
The tech magnate has come under fire in recent months for what have been described as impulsive social media posts, which some saw as revealing erratic behavior. In one recent Twitter tirade, Musk lashed out at a cave diver who participated in the dramatic rescue of 12 trapped boys in Thailand, levying unsubstantiated claims that the man was a “pedophile.”
But the tweet that has potentially created serious legal problems for Musk came last week when he wrote in a post that he is considering taking Tesla private at US$420 a share, adding, “funding secured.” Reports following the tweet have indicated that, while talks have been initiated, funding has not been secured.
The tweet sent the company’s stock up sharply amid an ongoing public war of words between Musk and Tesla short-sellers. In his interview on Thursday, the CEO blamed short-sellers for this personal strife.
“At least a few months of extreme torture from the short-sellers, who are desperately pushing a narrative that will possibly result in Tesla’s destruction,” he lamented. “They’re not dumb guys, but they’re not supersmart. They’re OK They’re smartish,” he added.
While the interview raised more questions about Musk’s mental state and fitness to run the company, it also shed light on how he crafted the tweet about taking his firm private.
He acknowledged that no one had reviewed the tweet prior to publishing it and said that he was not on drugs when he wrote it.
“It seemed like better karma at US$420 than at US$419,” he said in the interview. “But I was not on weed, to be clear. Weed is not helpful for productivity. There’s a reason for the word ‘stoned.’ You just sit there like a stone on weed.”