An Open Letter to Elon Musk
I’m writing on behalf of investors who believe in you and your mission to accelerate the globe’s adoption of sustainable energy. Your track record as a visionary is unprecedented, and I also recognize the intangibles of your leadership – building a culture of walking through walls and inspiring a workforce to a level I have not seen in over 20 years of covering tech.
However, continued success requires investor support. In order to realize your mission, Tesla needs access to capital and the confidence of investors.
Over the last 6 months, there have been too many examples of concerning behavior that is shaking investor confidence. In my view, your outburst at analysts on the March 2018 earnings call, your ongoing frustration with short sellers and the media, your June email exchange with the saboteur, and your confrontation on Twitter with cave diver Vern Unsworth each raised flags with investors.
The exchange with Vern Unsworth crossed the line. I suspect you would agree given you deleted the string from Twitter, but it will take more than that to regain investor confidence.
Your behavior is fueling an unhelpful perception of your leadership – thin-skinned and short-tempered.
Thankfully, the road to regaining investor confidence is well traveled. It starts with an apology. Then, focus your message on your progress toward achieving Tesla’s mission. You might consider taking a Twitter sabbatical. Twitter might keep Tesla in the news but it won’t help continued improvements in production and product.
Also, ignore the short sellers. During my time as an analyst I have observed that when companies aggressively engage with short sellers, they lose. The best way to beat them is not with words, but actions that drive the stock higher.
It’s hard to imagine the responsibility and strain of managing several world-changing companies, but I’m confident that this letter represents the view of investors and customers who want to see you succeed. Listening to the herd is rarely how the world changes, but in this scenario I hope you’ll consider the opinion of your supporters and do your best to improve.
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