Elon Musk’s latest unsavoury Twitter outbursts may have inadvertently sent his struggling electric vehicle company Tesla into freefall.
Despite recently promising to keep the peace with a ‘self-enforced’ radio silence on social media, the billionaire motormouth couldn’t help but get involved in last week’s rescue mission involving 12 boys trapped in a Thailand cave system.
However good his initial intentions were as he offered to send his state-of-the-art boring equipment, and then a miniature submarine to the site, the good will quickly turned sour as he took criticism of his sudden appearance and equipment badly.
The rescue’s leader – Narongsak Osotthanakorn – told the enthusiastic 47-year-old business magnate that his devices simply wouldn’t work.
“The equipment they brought to help us is not practical with our mission,” Osotthanakorn explained. “Even though their equipment is technologically sophisticated, it doesn’t fit with our mission to go in the cave.”
Eventually, the SpaceX chief couldn’t contain himself and embarked on a bizarre personal attack on one of the British rescuers – Vern Unsworth – who, while being grateful for Musk’s interest, had noted the submersible was too rigid to navigate around the flooded cave system’s tight bends. It may not have helped the situation to hear that Unsworth actually said of Musk’s submarine that “he can stick it where it hurts”.
Turning his ire upon Unsworth, the South African-born Musk inexplicably labelled the diver a paedophile in a series of unpleasant tweets which he later deleted.
Within minutes of the Twitter storm, Tesla’s shares began to tumble. And, while there’s no doubt they may well recover, the slide comes on the back of a previous slump which saw the firm’s value nosedive by 16%.
This latest outburst is almost a continuation of curious criticisms fired off by the feisty Musk. Most notably he has recently got himself involved in several public arguments about cryptocurrency.
Keen to embed himself into the crypto narrative, Musk locked horns with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin over a crypto scam. He’s also been known to throw his toys out of the pram over the suggestion that he is, in fact, the real Satoshi Nagamoto and the inventor of Bitcoin – a notion he vehemently denies.
He also butted heads with Warren Buffet over crypto – this time seemingly fighting its corner – as he revealed possible plans to launch ‘Cryptocandy’ as an ICO.
Whatever the extent of his now recurring hyperbole, it’s a guarantee that Musk’s latest hostile tweets have knocked millions of dollars off the value of his investments (no doubt to the deep chagrin of his co-investors). He’s clearly a human being with an extraordinary mind and talent for business, investment and invention, but he simply doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.