Tesla CEO Elon Musk on “60 Minutes”
Elon Musk’s Twitter followers may face a new reality next week.
The Tesla CEO reached a new agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced Friday, that he will no longer tweet about the company’s finances or sales without preapproval from a Tesla securities lawyer.
Musk’s Twitter feed (@ElonMusk) has until now been a clearinghouse for all kinds of Tesla news, answers to questions from owners and potential owners and random thoughts from the CEO (and, of course, news about his other ventures, including rocket company SpaceX.)
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The new deal follows the breakdown of an agreement Musk reached with the SEC last September—in response to an August tweet that he planned to take the company private—that he would not tweet information “material to investors” without prior approval from Tesla’s lawyers. After the August Tweet initially juiced Tesla’s stock price, the SEC halted trading.
Funding for the private takeover did not materialize, and Tesla’s stock price fell. The company and Musk reached a settlement with the SEC that involved $40 million in fines, and Musk was forced to step down as chairman of the company’s board.
Then in February, Musk tweeted that the company will make “around 500k [cars] in 2019,” after earlier telling investors the number would be closer to 400,000. (He corrected the tweet with another four hours later.) Again, the SEC got involved, threatening to hold Musk in contempt of court on Feb. 25.
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On April 4, a district court judge ordered Musk and the SEC to settle their differences. Their new agreement announced Friday is much more specific about what types of information Musk can’t tweet (or post on any other social media outlet) without prior approval.
This one allows Musk to tweet as he sees fit except on a specific range of topics. Those include any information about Tesla’s finances, financial guidance, or other numbers, and any proposed or potential mergers, joint ventures, or acquisitions; production or sales numbers or forecasts; new business lines; stock sales or purchases, including those by Musk; legal or regulatory findings that have not previously been made public; and any event that would require the company to file an 8-K form with the SEC, such as executive or director personnel announcements.
This much more specific set of subjects might then calm Musk’s Twitter feed—and keep it from having so many dramatic, unexpected effects on Tesla’s stock price.