Is Tesla’s Elon Musk a master manipulator of markets?

Edited By: Deeksha Teri WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jun 03, 2021, 05:36 PM(IST)

Tesla chief Elon Musk Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Tesla's Elon Musk's one tweet about the 'Baby Shark' dance video resulted in an increase in the shares of Samsung Publishing, who owns the company that made it, by nearly six per cent

In older days, people heard tales about how a man's words could not only reach millions but might also be enough to make people lose or win money. The old tale has come true, at least in Elon Musk’s case.

Once bitten, not shy

In August 2018, Elon Musk had used his Twitter account to claim that he had "funding secured" to take his company Tesla private at a price of $420 per share. While the information was manipulated and not completely true, the effect of his statement was very true.

Also read | Would dinosaurs be alive if they had spaceships? Tech mogul Elon Musk believes so

Musk was challenged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and was charged with securities fraud the next month. While the two sides reached to a quick settlement, Musk had to step down from his position of Chairman of Tesla.

He was also asked to get all his public communications (mainly, Twitter) checked and approved by his team of lawyers. In addition to this, the tech billonaire was fined $40 million.

‘High’ly vulnerable

However, that has not stopped Musk from tweeting ‘dangerous’ things. In the early months of 2019, Musk tweeted an estimate of how many cars Tesla would be able to produce in that financial year. Since the number was higher than the goal stated in company’s official guidance, the tweet was not appreciated by the SEC, especially after the board realised the tweet in question was not approved by his lawyers.

Also read | Bitcoin tumble slows with help from Elon Musk

Later, famous for his odd-timed tweets, Musk on the evening of July 29 replied to Ryan McCaffrey about solar roofs. In response to Musk’s "Tesla megapack", Ryan had tweeted, "How’s solar roof tile progress going? You were working on a new version (V3?) of that, right?"

Musk, within minutes, replied, "Spooling up production line rapidly. Hoping to manufacture ~1000 solar roofs/week by end of this year".

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After this tweet, the SEC warned Tesla that Musk’s tweets about solar power and Tesla car production were another breach of the settlement, to which Tesla lawyers argued that it was nothing but "wholly aspirational".

Also read | Elon Musk's Tesla halts bitcoin purchases amid concerns of increasing carbon emissions

While the two sides agreed on stricter vetting for Musk’s tweets, the space junkie did not steer clear of trouble. While the world fought with the pandemic, in May 2020, the entrepreneur tweeted, "Tesla's stock price is too high imo."

His tweet resulted in a drop of 10 per cent in the share prices that night and the SEC warned Musk and Tesla that the tweet reflected the company's financial condition. Not a big fan of the agency, Musk dismissed the claims by saying the tweet was simply a "personal opinion", and not a factual claim.

Master of coin

There was less harm when Elon Musk was limited to his own company's shares. However, recently, the SpaceX founder has started tweeting about cryptocurrencies, especially since Tesla invested in the same.

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His tweets on crypto and digital currencies, and, recently, dogecoin, have sent their prices up and down within seconds. The interesting part of him dwelling in cryptocurrencies is that these commodities are not controlled by the SEC, thus giving Musk the freedom to tweet without getting into much trouble.

Recently, when China signalled a new crackdown on cryptocurrency, the prices were set for a devastating fall. However, one tweet from Musk cushioned the loss. The virtual currency had fallen to nearly $30,000 but quickly climbed back to $39,500 after Musk's tweet:

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'Baby Shark crushes all!'

It is not just solar panels or cryptocurrencies, Musk has also diverted his attention towards children’s entertainment media. He recently replied to South Park’s tweet of meme stars by saying, "Baby Shark crushes all! More views than humans."

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His one tweet about the 'Baby Shark' dance video resulted in an increase in the shares of Samsung Publishing in the Asian trading by nearly six per cent.

Tech-y advice

Elon Musk has also indulged in advising the masses on which messaging app is a better choice, purely out of personal opinion. In the early months of 2021, Musk asked people to switch to a messaging app called Signal over WhatsApp and Facebook due to a change in the latter's policy which has raised privacy concerns.

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Shortly after the announcement, the demand for the app shot up and more than 100,000 users installed Signal across the app stores of Apple and Google within two days.

Conquering new markets

After successfully launching his automobile and space companies, Elon Musk is hoping to soon launch a drive-in food chain across the US, in the locations of Supercharger. Local reports stated that an application has been submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which will cover the areas of "Restaurant services, pop-up restaurant services, self-service restaurant services, take-out restaurant services".

However, the reports have not yet been verified by the company or the serial tweeter, Elon Musk, yet.

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