Investors Query Funding Costs At A Private Tesla

20 August, 2018, 19:13 | Author: Shannon Aguilar
  • Joshua Lott  Getty Images

Isolating exactly which issue at Tesla is making shareholders the most nervous is hard, but the New York Times interview with Musk, published on Friday, doesn't seem to have done much in the way of softening the electric vehicle company's PR problems.

Shares of Electric vehicle maker Tesla have tumbled about 9 per cent after CEO Elon Musk conceded in a newspaper interview that job stress may be getting the best of him.

The tweet, which Musk told the Times that "no one had seen or reviewed before he posted it", caused Tesla's shares to rise. In it, Musk lamented the many personal and professional challenges he has faced in the past year.

Mr Musk said he blames his stress on short-sellers who bet Tesla's shares will lose value if it goes private.

In a separate report, The Wall Street Journal said securities regulators have been investigating if Tesla misled investors about Model 3 production problems. During a conference call earlier this year, he got testy with analysts over a perceived cash crunch at Tesla, scolding them for "boring questions".

In closing trade, Tesla shares skidded 8.9 per cent to US$305.50 following the publication of the interview with The New York Times.

He said he did not intend to give up his roles as chairman and CEO but if there was someone who could do the job better, "they can have the reins right now". Nearly a week later, the chief executive said the basis for that statement was conversations with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which first expressed interest in helping take the company private in early 2017.

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Since the interview Tesla's board had shown no sign of taking any action. "Weed is not helpful for productivity", he told the Times.

On the physical toll his job is taking, Musk said: "It's not been great, actually". "It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien", he told the newspaper.

"It seemed like better karma at US$420 than at US$419", he said in the interview. The Times article does not elaborate on this, but given Sandberg is still at Facebook, it's safe to say she ended up declining the offer. The paper described a sleep-deprived CEO working 120 hours per week who hasn't taken a substantial vacation since 2001. "You just sit there like a stone on weed".

The father-of-six also rejected suggestions he had been smoking marijuana, adding: 'I was not on weed, to be clear.

His comments confirmed what many in and out of the company had suspected as Musk conceded that exhaustion was affecting his personal health and that friends have come by "who are really concerned". But Tesla isn't quite normal, with the identity and success of the company tied directly to Musk's intelligence and personality.

Musk confessed that he takes Ambient sometimes to get rid of insomnia. Tesla board members are also reportedly aware that Musk has used recreational drugs on occasion. Some Tesla board members have voiced concerns about the extent of Musk's workload and following his tweet, the search to find an executive to take some of the pressure off of Musk has intensified. He expects the short-sellers to be a thorn in his side for the coming months as they continue pushing a narrative that may bring Tesla down.

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