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CEO Musk Risks Becoming Liability for Tesla

Stock plunges again after weepy interview, SEC probe revealed.

by on Aug.20, 2018

Musk has said he's been working up to 120 hours a week - but is that really benefitting Tesla?

(This story has been updated with a comment by former GM V.Chairman Bob Lutz.)

Since the era when Lee Iacocca was the seemingly ever-present face of Chrysler, perhaps no other automotive executive has been more closely linked with his company than Tesla’s constantly tweeting CEO Elon Musk – and Iacocca didn’t have access to the social media tools that routinely help Musk make headlines.

But the events of recent weeks have started raising questions about the 47-year-old Tesla chief’s role, some observers beginning to wonder whether Musk is starting to become more asset than liability. That has become underscored in recent days as backlash continues to mount over the tweet Musk posted early this month announces his goal of taking Tesla private and suggesting that the necessary funding had been “secured.”

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That has triggered a new probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was revealed last week, about the same time Musk sat down by an unexpectedly emotional interview with the New York Times that raised questions about both his health and his ability to remain at Tesla’s helm and, as this week begins, it has led to new warnings about Tesla finances, the automaker’s shares taking a sharp tumble as Monday trading began on Wall Street.

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Good News, Bad News: A Round-Up of the Latest Tesla Developments

Whistleblower reveals defects; SEC probing Musk tweets and a key analyst raises earnings forecast.

by on Aug.16, 2018

Former Tesla employee Martin Tripp tweeted images of what he claimed were faulty Tesla batteries.

Regulators, whistleblowers, analysts and investors? Oh, and did we leave out factories finally emerging from “production hell?” It’s been a busy 24 hours for Tesla and CEO Elon Musk, with a heavy mix of both good news and bad news.

Here’s a summary of key developments including claims for a quality cover-up, an SEC probe and the possibility that Tesla could wind up being more profitable this year than even its most bullish proponents had expected:

Whistleblower claims Tesla covered up battery problems, delivered defective cars to customers.

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Beyond the Headlines!

Tesla’s battle with Martin Tripp – a self-styled whistleblower whom the carmaker prefers to call a saboteur – is heating up. The former employee at the Gigafactory battery plant has tweeted out images of what he claims are defective lithium-ion battery packs that were nonetheless installed in sedans to help Tesla speed up production of the Model 3. Tripp also posted of vehicle identification numbers that he claims are equipped with the batteries which, among other things, may have punctures.

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Chinese EV Maker Nio Eyes $1.8B IPO on NYSE

EV maker joins other Chinese automakers on exchange.

by on Aug.16, 2018

Chinese EV maker Nio is preparing its $1.8 billion IPO for the New York Stock Exchange.

A Chinese electric vehicle start-up, Nio, which is backed by one of China’s largest technology companies, is preparing for a $1.8 billion initial public offering of its American depositary.

It represents the biggest U.S. listing by a Chinese automaker, according to reports from China.

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Nio is backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd, a company with holdings the internet, technology and gaming as well as other ventures, including the emerging automotive-oriented mobility industry, has is seeking a float of up to $1.8 billion, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It will go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NIO.”  (more…)

Musk, Tesla Board, Move Forward on Privatization Plan

Carmaker hires Goldman, Silver Lake to advise.

by on Aug.14, 2018

Whether Elon Musk could justify tweeing "funding secured" is a matter of hot debate.

Even as questions mount about CEO Elon Musk’s plan to take the automaker private, the car company’s board is beginning the necessary steps to evaluate a proposal, with investment firms Silver Lake and Goldman Sachs brought in to offer advice on what appears to be a Saudi-funded buy-out.

Those developments come just a week after CEO Musk tweeted his interest in taking Tesla private while also hinting that “funding (is) secured.” Precisely where the funding will come from has become a central question, though Musk on Monday put up a blog post indicating he has been meeting with managers of the Saudi Arabian sovereign investment fund who have expressed interest in backing the plan.

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Tesla, meanwhile, now faces a probe by the SEC, as well as at least two lawsuits filed last week questioning whether the South African-born executive’s proposal was, in reality, a “nuclear attack” on by short-sellers.

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Saudis Appear to Be Key to Taking Tesla Private

Facing lawsuits, SEC probe, CEO Musk offers more details on privatization plan.

by on Aug.13, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed a few details about the plan to take the EV maker private he teased last week.

In a Monday morning blog post, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has offered some critical new details about the plan, first announced last week, to take the battery-carmaker private, pointing to a Saudi sovereign investment fund as the potential source of funding — though he also cautioned it would be “premature” to offer full details at this point.

Last Tuesday, the 47-year-old chief executive set off alarm bells when he posted a tweet declaring his interest in taking Tesla private at a price of $420 per share. The news sent investors scurrying to snap up Tesla stock which quickly approached an all-time high before settling back two days later.

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With virtually no details offered, Musk and Tesla quickly came under scrutiny from analysts, investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission which has begun to probe his comments to see if they violate federal securities law. Tesla now faces two lawsuits, as well, alleging the Tuesday announcement was really a “nuclear attack” on short-sellers. (more…)

Tesla Stock Tumbles Hard as Questions Mount About Proposal to Go Private

Investors are “raising a lot of sensible questions,” while the SEC also begins sniffing around.

by on Aug.09, 2018

Investors -- along with the SEC -- are raising concerns about CEO Musk's proposal to take Tesla private.

Barely two days after euphoric investors started snapping up Tesla stock, buoyed by a tweet from CEO Elon Musk suggesting the company was ready to go private, gravity has set in. After nearing an all-time record, Tesla’s share price settling back to barely above where it started.

While the battery-carmaker’s board – along with at least one major investor — has cautiously backed the idea, saying it will now explore the idea of taking Tesla private, there appear to be more questions than answers. One of the uncertainties is how the SEC is viewing what happened this week, the federal agency set to take a close look at Musk’s suggestion that “Funding (is) secured” to make the transition once Tesla stock hit $420 a share.

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That number was certainly a big jump from where TSLA shares began the day on Tuesday, just over $340 a share. By the end of the day it had rocketed close to Tesla’s record closing of $389.61. But concerns were apparent almost immediately with some analysts pointing, among other things, to the “420” in Musk’s tweet, a number more often used as slang for marijuana.

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Tesla Board Backs Consideration of Musk’s Privatization Plan

Six board members willing to look further at the plan.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Tesla's Elon Musk appears to have the support of the board of directors for his privatization plans.

Just a day after telling Tesla employees, and later the world via Twitter, that he wants to take the EV maker private, CEO Elon Musk appears to be getting support from his board of directors.

Six board members issued a statemen saying they were considering his proposal and that they’d met with him previously to explore the strategy, including “discussion as to how being private could better serve Tesla’s long-term interests.”

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Two other the board members, Kimball Musk, Elon’s brother, and Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist, were not part of the statement. Members of the board who signed the statement were Brad Buss, Robyn Denholm, Ira Ehrenpreis, Antonio Gracias, Linda Johnson Rice and James Murdoch. (more…)

Tesla CEO Musk Lays Out Plan to Take EV Maker Private

SpaceX appears to be the blueprint.

by on Aug.07, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to take the EV maker private — at $420 a share.

Sometimes Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk means what he tweets — in this case, taking the company private at $420 a share.

Earlier today, Musk hopped on telling his millions of followers, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. Funding secured.”

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That set off two flurries. One a thread of tweets about everything from what a great idea it is to how followers love marijuana references to how the Securities and Exchange Commission frown on these sorts of pronouncements. (more…)

Musk Tweets Suggests He Could Take Tesla Private

But is his 420 reference a doper joke or a serious price target?

by on Aug.07, 2018

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk told the Twitterverse today he was considering taking the EV maker private.

For those in on doper slang, “420” is a familiar reference to marijuana. And to those in the financial community, it’s a number that has many today asking what Tesla CEO Elon Musk might be smoking.

Musk once again set the Twittersphere on fire Tuesday when he sent out a short tweet declaring “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”

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Tesla’s stock has been on fire since the automaker released its second-quarter earnings numbers last week, Musk repeating a pledge to deliver both a profit and positive cashflow for the second half of the year. Shares of TSLA were up by another nearly 8.5% as of midday trading, at around $375 rapidly taking aim at the carmaker’s previous record high of $389.61. (more…)

Former Worker Countersues Tesla Over Sabotage Claim

Martin Tripp alleges automaker tried to cover up quality problems.

by on Aug.06, 2018

Former employee Martin Tripp claims he was fired after trying to report problems at Tesla's Gigafactory.

A former employee at the Gigafactory battery plant has sued Tesla after it claimed he committed sabotage and stole intellectual property.

Martin Tripp was fired by the battery-carmaker in June and subsequently sued by Tesla for allegedly sabotaging the company’s manufacturing system and also stealing its intellectual property. In turn, Tripp has filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, while also filing a lawsuit against Tesla.

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In the lawsuit, the former employee said the carmaker took action after he “raised his concerns about the seemingly exorbitant amounts of scrap” being produced at the Gigafactory, though “no action was taken.” Tripp even sent an email to Tesla CEO on May 16, 2018 expressing his concerns and backing them up with “graphical charts.”

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