Eccentric Tesla CEO Elon Musk is at it again on Twitter, launching a flurry of odd and cryptic tweets on Wednesday and changing his Twitter handle to “Elon Tusk” along with an elephant emoji.
Tesla CEO Changes Twitter Name to 'Elon Tusk'
The new handle is an allusion to this viral meme:
Musk didn’t stop at changing his Twitter handle, going on to make a series of announcements and statements regarding Tesla news and his current legal and professional difficulties.
'Elon Tusk' Teases Tesla Announcement
Musk cryptically teased an upcoming announcement, publishing three separate tweets to his 25 million followers:
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 27, 2019
Some Tesla news
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 27, 2019
Musk would not be drawn into elaborating on the news any further, nor has he responded to comment requests regarding the handle change.
All a Distraction from $1 Billion Bond Payment?
The timing of the handle change and the mysterious announcement is interesting, coming in the midst of the ongoing controversy surrounding Musk’s SEC indictment for securities fraud which was settled by court order that Musk may have broken last week, prompting the SEC to file new court papers.
Musk was forced to pay a $20 million fine and step down as Tesla chairman after fraudulently stating on Twitter that a round of funding enabling Tesla to go private had been “secured." It emerged that no funding had been secured and Tesla lost 11% of its stock value in the aftermath of the SEC complaint.
After his September indictment, Musk was ordered in court to stop “disseminating misleading or inaccurate information via Twitter or other means in the future.”
However, a February 20 tweet may have landed Musk in hot water after it emerged that the figures within were not accurate.
Meant to say annualized production rate at end of 2019 probably around 500k, ie 10k cars/week. Deliveries for year still estimated to be about 400k.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 20, 2019
After stating “Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019,” Musk corrected himself, saying he had intended to refer to the annualized production rate and that the true figure of delivered cars was closer to 400k.
As well as facing a backlash on social media, there may be legal ramifications for the blunder, with the SEC filing court papers asking Judge Alison Nathan to hold Musk in contempt of court.
"He once again published inaccurate and material information about Tesla to his over 24 million Twitter followers, including members of the press, and made this inaccurate information available to anyone with internet access."
As part of the deal settling his fraud indictment, Musk is required by court order to pre-approve all tweets and other social media posts that convey material information with Tesla lawyers, and he failed to do so in this case.
"Musk has not made a diligent or good faith effort to comply with the provision of the court’s final judgment requiring pre-approval of his written communications about Tesla. While Musk claims to ‘respect the justice system,’ his deliberate indifference to compliance with this court’s final judgment indicates otherwise."
Further still, the tweet contributed to a Tesla share price decline that will force the company to pay its $920 million bond payment completely in cash.
Tesla CEO: SEC Oversight is Broken
Musk, for his part, has appeared totally unrepentant for the tweet, stating that the SEC’s behavior is “embarrassing” adding yesterday that the organization’s oversight is “broken” and sarcastically remarking that the SEC “forgot to read Tesla earnings transcript, which clearly states 350k to 500k.”
Exactly. This has now happened several times. Something is broken with SEC oversight.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2019
Tesla stock rose over 5.67% on Wednesday, with the rise approximately correlated with his Twitter activity.
Analysts, though, are worried about the fallout.
“The SEC here is trying to avoid having to take extreme action, but Mr. Musk keeps pushing them,” said Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School. “It is hard to say how this is going to end.”
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