A tweet can be worth a thousand words, or in Elon Musk’s case, millions of dollars. And people on Twitter are having a riotous time with the news.
In a settlement reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Saturday, September 29, Elon Musk will step down as Tesla chairman (although he will stay on as CEO), following a tweet that sparked a federal investigation. And he’ll also pay a fine of $20 million, as will Tesla.
On August 7, 2018, he posted a now-infamous tweet, saying: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”
The use of 420 is a joke about smoking marijuana, with that number being a popular term to denote the consumption of cannabis. Unfortunately, the SEC did not find it funny at all.
The tweet suggested Musk would take Tesla off the stock market. The “false and misleading” claims, as the SEC called them, risked misleading investors into thinking the company already had the funding to go private.
Musk will step down as chairman of Tesla for three years, starting in November. He has yet to comment on the settlement, although he did tweet a music video of American hip hop group Naughty by Nature earlier today. As you do.
“This matter reaffirms an important principle embodied in our disclosure-based federal securities laws,” a statement from the SEC read. “Specifically, when companies and corporate insiders make statements, they must act responsibly.”
And while it’s bad news for Musk, people on Twitter have been quick to point out how a single tweet lost the world’s leading electric car company its visionary chairman. You might even say, yes, they were all making the same joke.
There were also rumors that Musk tweeted the original joke to make his girlfriend, Canadian singer Grimes, laugh.
And there were some more, uh, out there theories that the whole thing is a ploy by Musk to actually take the company private.
It’s not all bad news for Musk though, as it looks like Tesla’s stock has actually rebounded following the settlement.
Still, just a reminder to any Twitter-happy chief executives out there – maybe think twice before sending that hilarious tweet. Just in case, you know, it’s not actually that funny.