SEC Socks it to Tesla CEO Musk, Shreds his Paper Halo

SEC charges him with securities fraud, seeks to oust him from Tesla.

Tesla (TSLA) plunged $39 or 12.7% in late trading after the SEC announced that it had charged CEO Elon Musk with securities fraud “for a series of false and misleading tweets about a potential transaction to take Tesla private.”

This particular blatant lie, as I’ve come to call it, commenced on August 7, when he told his 22 million Twitter followers, and the news media that jump on this stuff, and everyone that reads the news, which was the entire world, during trading hours for maximum stock-price-manipulation effect: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”

“This statement was false and misleading,” the SEC says in the complaint, filed in federal district court in the Southern District of New York. “Over the next three hours, Musk made a series of additional materially false and misleading statements via Twitter including”:

  • “My hope is *all* current investors remain with Tesla even if we’re private. Would create special purpose fund enabling anyone to stay with Tesla.”
  • “Shareholders could either to [sic] sell at 420 or hold shares & go private.”
  • “Investor support is confirmed. Only reason why this is not certain is that it’s contingent on a shareholder vote.”

On that day, TSLA soared $25, or over 7%, before trading was halted. When trading resumed, shares jumped further, and closed up $37.91 or 11% for the day, before it all came gloriously unglued.

“In truth and in fact, Musk had not even discussed, much less confirmed, key deal terms, including price, with any potential funding source,” the complaint says.

Musk knew or was reckless in not knowing that each of these statements was false and/or misleading because he did not have an adequate basis in fact for his assertions.

When he made these statements, Musk knew that he had never discussed a going-private transaction at $420 per share with any potential funding source, had done nothing to investigate whether it would be possible for all current investors to remain with Tesla as a private company via a “special purpose fund,” and had not confirmed support of Tesla’s investors for a potential going private transaction.

He also knew that he had not satisfied numerous additional contingencies, the resolution of which was highly uncertain, when he unequivocally declared, “Only reason why this is not certain is that it’s contingent on a shareholder vote.”

Musk’s public statements and omissions created the misleading impression that taking Tesla private was subject only to Musk choosing to do so and a shareholder vote.

And now the remedies.

“Musk violated, and unless restrained and enjoined will violate again,” antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, the complaint said. It seeks to oust Musk as CEO and chairman of Tesla and hit him financially. It seeks specifically:

  • A permanent injunction.
  • Disgorgement, with prejudgment interest, of “any ill-gotten gains received as a result of the violations alleged herein.”
  • Civil penalties.
  • “An officer and director bar against Musk,” but not just at Tesla but “of a public company,” any public company, which would force him out as CEO and chairman at Tesla and block him in his future endeavors at public companies. SpaceX is private, so OK, but it could not go public with Musk at the helm.
  • And such further relief as the Court may deem appropriate.

The SEC announcement points out that just because it’s said on Twitter doesn’t mean it’s OK to blatantly lie to investors to manipulate up the shares. Providing “truthful and accurate information is among a CEO’s most critical obligations,” the statement said. “That standard applies with equal force when the communications are made via social media or another non-traditional form.”

And it doesn’t matter if Musk has a halo: “An officer’s celebrity status or reputation as a technological innovator does not give license to take those responsibilities lightly,” it said.

Alas, these charges apparently do not include the most recent lies, such as his absurd BS tweet three days ago that Tesla was “upgrading” its “logistics system,” and because it was “running into an extreme shortage of car carrier trailers,” it would start “building our own car carriers this weekend to alleviate load.”

Tesla building car carrier trailers over the weekend? What moron would actually believe this blatant lie?

Even if no one believes his blatant lies, he still tells them. But then on second thought, there are many true believers who believe anything he says, and plenty of fund managers that have too much money at stake with their Tesla shares that they rode all the way up into ludicrousness so that they must believe every blatant lie he tells, because they must buy the shares when they sell off because they have too much at stake, and they cannot allow the shares to drop….

And they’ll do it again. Shares are down $39 tonight, but they’re still inexplicably high, at around $270, because after each fiasco, of which Tesla has an endless series, the buying by these fund managers that are too deeply into this stuff perks the shares back up.

But already, and for all eternity, “funding secured” can no longer be used with a straight face. 
 

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  86 comments for “SEC Socks it to Tesla CEO Musk, Shreds his Paper Halo

  1. Julian
    Sep 27, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    I highly recommend this video for anyone enjoying what’s finally happening.

    Schadenfreude?

    Tesla’s Elon Musk is a liar, he will do anything to keep stocks elevated: Blaine Capital

    Bill Smith, president and CIO at Blaine Capital, weighs in on Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.

    https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/09/27/teslas-elon-musk-is-a-liar-he-will-do-anything-to-keep-stocks-elevated-blaine-capital.html

  2. Auld Kodjer
    Sep 27, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    I’m going to steal and modify an old joke, and violate Wolf’s standards of decency for a post …

    Q. What is the difference between Elon Musk driving a Tesla, and a porcupine?

    A. A porcupine has its pricks on the outside

  3. Bernadette
    Sep 27, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    It’s about time that SEC stepped in. Musk needed to be ‘humbled’.

    • Wisdom Seeker
      Sep 28, 2018 at 10:07 am

      He’s not humbled yet. He turned down a settlement offer.

      The fact that there was a settlement offer also makes you wonder whether the SEC is really trying to humble him.

      • ZeroBrain
        Sep 28, 2018 at 10:32 am

        The settlement offer reportedly required appointment of two outside/independent directors. If something shady is going on, independent oversight is the last thing you want. Otherwise, it is hard to imagine why he went this route, unless he thinks Tesla will soon be profitable enough that it can weather a storm of bad publicity.

        • valuationguy
          Sep 28, 2018 at 1:35 pm

          You have to understand the BILLIONs in liability that Tesla, Musk, and the BoD is personally exposed to….not just the misrepresentations Musk made in this instance (i.e going private tweet)….but also the buyout of SolarCity…where he (and the Board) made major representations in order to get that company bailed out by Telsa’s shareholders.

          The Courts (in that case) have already stated that NONE of the Directors on Telsa’s board can be considered INDEPENDENT….thus there was no independent determination of a fair price to pay for SolarCity….despite Tesla’s board (and Musk) publicly stating that its (PAID by the Board) advisors had determined a price and the Board deems it fair.

          The self-dealing at Tesla and SolarCity knows no bounds…..

          Given the actual evidence that SolarCity had a significant NEGATIVE net worth when Telsa paid BILLIONS to consolidate (and hide the squirrelly accounting there for a bit longer)…all the parties shorting Telsa are going to see it implode and get its just desserts.

          Are you actually surprised you see little of this revealed in the media (which loves Musk)? The shorts have done their homework in this instance and various SolarCity employees laid off in the past several months are fertile ground for more info to get revealed as discover continues.

  4. William Smith
    Sep 27, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    The only difference between him and many others is that he drank too much of his own coolaid (also maybe “white powder?”) and started to believe his own hype. No true sociopath/psychopath CEO worth his/her salt would do that. They keep the lies believable with lots of plausible deniability and corporate doublespeak to mitigate any backflow from their corporate toilet (called “investor relations”). I hope he is the first of many, but as the article mentions, far too many fund managers have been drinking the coolaid for far too long. As a technical person, I am shocked at the rubbish that financial journalists, analysts and investors swallow (eg. Theranos) about what is physically possible in terms of deliverables and time frames for said deliverables (especially for software/apps). A lot of people (and I mean *a*lot*) are living in cloud cuckoo land. Many are also deliberately arrogantly self-righteously ignorant which adds to their culpability. It takes two to tango and the “investor” is just as guilty as the shyster. The SEC should also go after fund managers (eg. pension funds, or those that have a fiduciary or moral duty of public care ) for failure to do proper prudential due diligence. And if the legislative framework isn’t there, then it must be made a high priority. “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich” JFK.

    • aqualech
      Sep 28, 2018 at 7:33 am

      “As a technical person, I am shocked at the rubbish that financial journalists, analysts and investors swallow (eg. Theranos) about what is physically possible in terms of deliverables and time frames for said deliverables (especially for software/apps). ”

      These “journalists, analysts and investors”, and I am thinking of bullish buy-side types, are like, or even were the cheer-squad types in high school. No critical thinking is required to be successful at what they do – but rather a brainless, euphoric enthusiasm. People will trust and believe them and follow along. In the investing sector, money is to be made that way as long as a person knows how to sell high. No, I don’t approve but I wish I knew how to play their game.

      • Jack O Lantern
        Sep 28, 2018 at 8:37 am

        Most “business reporters” just copy and paste company statements. That was obvious back after Enron collapsed. I regard most (but not Wolf of course) “business reporters” with the same seriousness as I regard “music reporters”.

        Ie, an article from a business reporter about a recent pronouncement from a CEO contains all the in-depth reporting as an article from a music reporter about an interview an artist granted around an album release.

    • Paulo
      Sep 28, 2018 at 8:32 am

      Mr Smith,

      Great comment. Yes, the investor is also an accomplice.

    • MD
      Sep 28, 2018 at 10:41 am

      The garbage around Theranos was swallowed because it was a female success story – a female CEO bucking that horrible ‘sexism’ in the world of STEM (that ‘sexism’ of course being the fact that women freely choose – as they have done for decades – not to study STEM subjects and freely choose instead courses such as law and marketing in which they believe they will earn more money…

      Whilst the fanfare of a woman founder/CEO at Theranos (fighting the institutional sexism in the world of tech, natch) was deafening on the way up (great role model etc.) the silence concerning the humungous fraud has been equally as deafening on the way down.

      Funny, that. Kind of selective.

  5. RepubAnon
    Sep 27, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    Turn out the lights, the party’s over.
    – Dandy Don Merideth

  6. Caliban
    Sep 27, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Soichiro Honda didn’t start out making luxury Acura automobiles just after World War 2. He began making motorized bicycles with 50cc engines. Honda automobiles were years away in the future. Acura was ~40 years away in the future. 

    Henry Ford didn’t jump right into making luxury Lincoln automobiles. He finally succeeded, after several failed attempts, making the Model T for a mass market. Ford was focused on producing Model T’s as quickly as possible that the paint drying time was a significant production bottleneck. Since black paint dried the fastest all Model T’s were painted black. Lincoln automobiles were years away in the future. As of Q2 2018 Ford was producing ~15,000 of their cash cow F-150 trucks per week!

    On the other hand, Elon Musk started out making luxury vehicles for a tiny niche luxury market. Now Tesla is trying to manufacture larger numbers of Model 3’s (versus earlier models) and is having lots of trouble ramping up to 2,000 / 3,000 / 4,000 / 5,000 (who really knows?) deliverable units per week. The original price target of ~$35,000 has been abandoned for an ~$80,000 fully loaded version. How many of those $1,000 down pre-orders are going to be canceled because of that?

    High-volume manufacturers come down the learning much faster than their low-/lower-volume competitors. There may be some, but I don’t know of any luxury goods maker that has ever successfully become a high-volume, low-cost manufacturer. 

    • 2banana
      Sep 27, 2018 at 10:23 pm

      And Mitsubishi made the Japanese Zeros that bombed Pearl Harbor

      And Porsche and BMW made tanks for the Nazis in WWII

      • JoAnn Leichliter
        Sep 28, 2018 at 5:58 am

        In short, they already knew howb.v to do this stuff….

        • Prairies
          Sep 28, 2018 at 10:16 am

          They just needed government funding to build up the infrastructure and pay the employees. Military contracts turn small operations or failing operations into success stories all the time.

  7. Xypher2000
    Sep 27, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    The ponzi scheme is unraveling…

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
      Sep 28, 2018 at 5:22 pm

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pxxS07PZn0

      Interesting docu on the actual Ponzi, he was a fairly lovable guy and even after his downfall had many fans who believed in him….

  8. Fred
    Sep 27, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    The cars work! And all my friends who own them love them. Never heard negative anecdotes barring small defects that were addressed reasonably quickly.

    Elon is flawed. But he built a real product that people love. It’s not a Ponzi scheme. It’s unbridled exuberance And fiscal imprudence.

    • aqualech
      Sep 28, 2018 at 7:26 am

      TSLA does not make money and will never pay off its debt.

    • JZ
      Sep 28, 2018 at 10:13 am

      I am sure if I build something with high cost and sell it to you way below cost, I will come up with something you “like”. A sexy product can make people forget about the “business”. That’s where you and your friend make the mistake Elon Musk designed to trap you and your money.

      • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
        Sep 28, 2018 at 5:23 pm

        This is part of how Amway works. The products themselves are actually of high quality. If you’ve got someone at your workplace etc selling Amway you can’t go wrong buying the actual products. Pity the fool selling them, but the products themselves are fine.

    • Prairies
      Sep 28, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Ford makes cars that work for decades. Share value = $9 Tesla can’t meet simple build deadlines for a couple years. Share value = $270

      Wake up, he isn’t selling cars. He is manipulating an inflated stock market and setting real technological investment back decades. Put all the automotive investment into the established supply chains and the automotive industry could literally shift within the decade.

      We won’t see a legitimate electric replacement for another generation because this generation is busy buying flamethrowers and surfboards.

    • JZ
      Sep 28, 2018 at 10:36 am

      Oh I forgot, building good product and sell below cost will NEVER work on products people familiar with. So it has to be green energy, automatic driving, big data, “the future”, so that people either forgot about the money losing business part or they “think” that can be solved in the future like those software consumer espionage data collection companies. That’s it. That’s how Telsla made this far as a money losing business. They will keep talking about “future”, and let’s see whether the “profitable business” gravity can bring him down.

    • MD
      Sep 28, 2018 at 10:47 am

      I’m pretty sure telling people that funding’s secure to take the company private at $420 per stock is the kind of ‘visionary’ behavior the world can do without.

      Lying and fraud, it’s called in the real world (whatever the hell that is any more).

      Musk appears to have achieved in the eyes of some a form of demigod status – the same was true of Jobs; people were happy to overlook his obnoxious behavior because he was a ‘visionary’.

      The cult of personality can lead the world into so many problems – and we do appear to love our narcissists as much as they love themselves…

    • Joe Banks
      Sep 28, 2018 at 11:41 am

      His “cars work”? What is so special about that? I have a 2005 Toyota Rav 4 and I still, after all these years, love to drive it. I think most people love their cars.

  9. Ed
    Sep 27, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    He’s a ponzi from the beginning. Not only is the business not viable the entire segment isn’t viable. Electric cars don’t work. Neither do powerwalls. If you follow it closely it’s a scam like bitcoin and the rest of the recent entries.

    If people could do simple math Tesla never could have left the launch pad. It was only a matter of time. However since no one does the math instead they follow trends they’ve let their money burn for nothing but ash. Do diligence my friends.

  10. Old dog
    Sep 27, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    George C. Parker was known as the greatest con-man in American history, managing to sell landmark items like Madison Square Gardens, the Statue of Liberty and, you guessed it, the Brooklyn Bridge.

    He was sentenced to life in prison and was sent to Sing Sing where he eventually died.

    Elon Musk is considered a genius by many. He will probably start a bunch of companies and con a million investors before he lands in the slammer.

  11. MF
    Sep 27, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    I have zero love for Mr. Musk, but isn’t it odd how the SEC found itself unable to levy similar charges against CEOs who were publicly pumping their stocks while privately dumping them during the GFC?

  12. Truth
    Sep 27, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Would a Tesla crash start a domino effect?

    • Sep 27, 2018 at 10:57 pm

      I don’t think so. Tesla is really irrelevant in terms of the overall markets. It’s a phenomenon all on its own.

      • Yellowcake
        Sep 27, 2018 at 11:27 pm

        I would not imagine domino but it could be the beginning of the rendering of some of the silly companies around the bay area.

      • Sdb
        Sep 28, 2018 at 12:08 am

        FB crashed USD 100 B not long ago and it barely scratched the market

    • Dis
      Sep 28, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Even if DOW or NASDAQ started to wobble, the Fed is now positioned to back off the rate hike path

  13. KSFO
    Sep 27, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    Will cowboy Kimbal Musk be the next CEO?….LMAO…..would not surprise me. On a side note, does the SEC investigation affect the companies ability to get future operating capital?

  14. KPL
    Sep 27, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    While Musk thought he had the get-out-of-the-jail-free card, he does not have the leverage of the bankers. You need leverage with the politicians, regulators, bureaucrats and central bankers for get-out-of-the-jail-free card. He should get in touch with the banksters.

    • JZ
      Sep 28, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      I think Elon is too big to fail for California.

  15. ML
    Sep 27, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    Not everyone reads every bit of news. i only read what interests me. So whenever I am reading news and come across yet another story about someone called Musk, I Ignore it.

    • California Bob
      Sep 27, 2018 at 11:39 pm

      “re: “… whenever I am reading news and come across yet another story about someone called Musk, I Ignore it.”

      Like you ignored this one?

      • Dave
        Sep 29, 2018 at 5:47 am

        ZZZZZING

  16. Bobber
    Sep 27, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    When you think about it, the SEC had to come down hard, otherwise they would have lost every bit of credibility they had left. Everyone knows the SEC is soft on financial crimes, but Musk basically shouted some lies from a Mountain top. The SEC had no room to maneuver.

    • Wisdom Seeker
      Sep 28, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Except they didn’t come down hard, they offered him a settlement. Musk’s ego apparently prevented him from accepting even the kid-gloves treatment

      • JZ
        Sep 28, 2018 at 1:37 pm

        I suspect Elon want himself removed.He does NOT want to step down and look like he failed or ditched his “loyal investors”.He wants to be “forced out” by somebody he keeps fighting against for his “loyal investors”. He was shouting 420$ for his investors. Everybody else are anti-investors and he would fight abasing them for his “true, loyal investors”,
        where his integrity is intact. Got it?

  17. Max
    Sep 28, 2018 at 12:14 am

    I was shocked the SEC actually filed charges against Musk, since they haven’t seemed to do much of anything in the last 10 years. I[‘ll never understand why so many people think Musk is a genius – in my opinion, he’s nothing but a hustler/shyster. I agree with Wolf – Tesla’s stock is a strange phenomenon.

    • Jack O Lantern
      Sep 28, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Musk isn’t a member of the club.

      Which also means he missed the meeting on the club rules, which would have told him the lawyer-approved ways of boosting a stock price as opposed to telling outright lies.

      For other info about the club, do a non-google search on a phrase such as “George Carlin Big Club” :)

  18. Sns
    Sep 28, 2018 at 12:56 am

    My boss, the founder of our brand thinks musk is a genius. Bums me out he thinks that.

    • Sep 28, 2018 at 7:43 am

      Your boss is right. Musk IS a genius — a genius at persuading others that he is a genius and that they should give him lots of money because he is a genius. He is a genius at hype. Some of this is used for good purposes, such as putting EVs, which have been around for 140 years, finally on the map. This was a tough thing to do, and he did it. He forced other automakers to develop EVs. Now they all have EVs. I give him total credit for that.

      But he is also nuts.

      • Jack O Lantern
        Sep 28, 2018 at 8:52 am

        Sorry Mr. Richter, I still think you are giving Mr. Musk too much credit. The time had arrived for EVs regardless of Musk. You are of course correct that Musk is very good at generating hype. But it only worked because the time was right for EVs. Even Musk couldn’t have generated hype about horse and buggy carriages. To be considered a genius at hype, a first step is to pick a topic that the world is ready for.

        I’ve always noticed that Tesla doesn’t race Formula E. The reasons are of course obvious, as it would be embarrassing. But notice all of the other manufacturers who’ve jumped in there. They didn’t do that because of Musk and his hype. They did that because they see electric cars as the future and such manufacturers have long used racing as a proving ground.

        Personally, I’d say the hybrid Toyota Prius opened the door for the viability of full EV cars. Its showed marketing potential, and it got all the other manufacturers saying “what’s next?”

      • Prairies
        Sep 28, 2018 at 2:03 pm

        Isn’t there a government grant for EV’s that was offered before Tesla? Maybe I have the timeline mixed up.

  19. Steve M
    Sep 28, 2018 at 1:25 am

    Even if it’s one less clown coming out of the proverbial car, it sometimes seems like there’s a million of ’em.
    The circus must go on.
    One down – 999,999 to go!

  20. Sep 28, 2018 at 3:14 am

    What I can’t really understand is his motive in this.

    Sure, his tweet moved the stock up sharply, though not all the way to $420. Sure, too, it must have burned some shorts, which some might find an enjoyable sport for consenting adults.

    But, with “funding [not] secured”, it was certain to blow up as it has, pushing the stock lower than if this had never happened. Unless he’s a total idiot, which seems unlikely, he must have known this, even if he thought the SEC wouldn’t respond and investors wouldn’t seek recompense.

    So – where’s the motive? Baffling….

    • Kent
      Sep 28, 2018 at 5:48 am

      He was probably stoned. This is why we should avoid smoking grass when in a position of influence.

      • Clark
        Sep 28, 2018 at 8:55 am

        Or pay an assistant $15 an hour to take your phone away from you at the proper time and drive you home if need be.

      • Sep 28, 2018 at 10:07 am

        Indeed – no other explanation seems to fit.

    • Danlxyz
      Sep 28, 2018 at 7:53 am

      Perhaps he was trying to divert attention from problems producing the Model 3.
      Everyone tweets BS just look at the Tweeter-in-Chief.

    • JZ
      Sep 28, 2018 at 1:45 pm

      Bond holders hold 1.5Billion or so convertible debt at 360$. My understanding is that by next march, 2019, If stock is below 360$, bond holders will ask Elon to pay cash for those debt. If stock is above 360$, the bond holders will convert the debt into stock and sell them on stock market. Elon needs cash, he can NOT afford to pay cash for the debt. That’s why he tried to burn the short and squeeze the stock above 360$. The short sellers knew, did NOT react and cover. The show down is next March. Again, this is my understanding, could be wrong.

  21. hotairmail
    Sep 28, 2018 at 3:49 am

    Musk for next President! ;-)

  22. xear
    Sep 28, 2018 at 4:29 am

    Sec will likely fine him $1,500 and he will admit no wrongdoing.

    Musk did not start Tesla, did not innovate anything. Tesla was conceived and founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. After leaving, Eberhard sued claiming Musk tried to rewrite history since Musk was merely a series A round investor and was now claiming to be a founder.

    .

    • Dis
      Sep 28, 2018 at 10:39 am

      Do you have a link to substantiate the rewrite / Series A claim? I’d like to read more about that part of the story

    • Maximus Minimus
      Sep 28, 2018 at 11:16 am

      Hope, you don’t mind if I include a link. Quite a story:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oifhD2bNUc

  23. Mark
    Sep 28, 2018 at 5:20 am

    Isn’t it great to have government that imprisoned people for decades for cannabis , saying it would drive you crazy, etc.

    Now the greedy assholes say “it’s OK”
    “We’ll take over now”

    Aren’t our rulers clever ? So caring for their subjects …..

    • MD
      Sep 28, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Ah well when you’ve de-industrialized massively you’re kind of forced to turn to things like cannabis and opioids in order to generate economic growth…top up the revenue from coffee shops, tattoo parlors and online gambling.

      De-industrialization was/is a process driven by the ‘markets’ (ie the focus purely short-term stockholder returns for the mostly-already-wealthy) not by government diktat.

      So maybe your ire needs to be redirected.

  24. Sneaky Pete
    Sep 28, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Selective enforcement of the law in the US, whether by the SEC or FBI or a Mayor or Governor or any other agency, is just the way it is these days. Musk ran afoul of the politics since there’s a new sheriff in town. Of course he’s guilty as charged, but imo that has very little to do with shutting him down. Sad but true.

  25. keepcalmeverythingisfine
    Sep 28, 2018 at 7:37 am

    History is rhyming. Every boom cycle has its poster child, and this one has Elon Musk. They all end up dead or in jail or both (Kenneth Lay). We will one day look back on this past decade and cringe at a number of things. Top of my list is Tesla. Others include the “Man Bun” “Micro-Brewery” “420” “Sharing Economy” “Apps” “mid-century modern” and yes even “Social Media.” These things will appear as dated as parachute pants and sock puppets, and some will re-emerge years later (disco ball) as retro. Not been my favorite decade, but that’s just my age speaking.

    • MB732
      Sep 28, 2018 at 9:13 am

      Agree! I stopped to help a woman with a flat tire recently…Nope–Man Bun!! He was a good guy though.

    • Bobber
      Sep 28, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Be careful. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had man buns.

  26. safe as milk
    Sep 28, 2018 at 7:39 am

    he’s a talented guy but not suited to the role of ceo. he should stick to product development and keep his mouth shut. the model 3 does appear to be an innovative product that works. the problem is that it isn’t the $35k car that he promised. it’s a $50k car. he needs to stick to his knitting and get costs down and quality up. pronto!

  27. Eastwind
    Sep 28, 2018 at 8:01 am

    My question now is whether the board can fire Musk for cause based on the SEC indictment. And if they can, but do not, can the board be sued?

    Of course this takes a lawyer with access to the contract and the appropriate experience to determine, but anyone can ask the question, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

  28. keepcalmeverythingisfine
    Sep 28, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Tesla=DeLorean. Even the drug reference is there. So you are going to start a new US car company eh? Upset the big 3 oligopoly? With the right amount of hype that appeals to really foolish people with too much money I might invest and ride it for a short time, but the end game is painfully obvious. There are better investments in all aspects. This guy is talented at one thing, duping huge numbers of people and wasting a huge amount of capital.

  29. Bobber
    Sep 28, 2018 at 10:05 am

    I find it odd the SEC does not have the power to penalize companies on its own for this type of behavior. Why must the SEC file a complaint with a court in order to impose a penalty?

    The SEC should have had a right to impose penalties, and Tesla should have the right to defend itself in court if desired.

    Is this a flawed process that encouraging wrongdoing?

  30. RangerOne
    Sep 28, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I assume everyone noticed he was probably trolling. Let’s buy the company for $420 a share and go private… 420, just weeks before appearing on camera smoking…. he has been giving the whole process the finger for awhile….

  31. Bobber
    Sep 28, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Tesla will be going down in flames. Indictments secured.

  32. Gershon
    Sep 28, 2018 at 11:00 am

    I wondered when the SEC was going to start pretending to do its job again instead of turning a blind eye to Wall Street fraud and blatant market manipulation.

  33. Ambrose Bierce
    Sep 28, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Nice seqway from the article on pot.

  34. Phoenix_Ikki
    Sep 28, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    This would sound funnier if we don’t live in this post-truth era and people that this kind of statement to heart, especially to his millions of zombie, brain death followers. Sadly, the pessimistic side of me thinks SEC will eventually turn this into nothing more than a slap on the wrist and the con will go a little longer..let’s hope I am wrong on this but won’t hold my breath on that one.

    “This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed,” Musk said in a statement Thursday. “I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way.”

    • Phoenix_Ikki
      Sep 28, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      Hmm…half a day later my pessimism is already proven to be right on the money….the slap on the wrist was already offered…go figure..

      https://www.engadget.com/2018/09/28/report-elon-musk-refused-to-sign-sec-settlement/?yptr=yahoo

      “Musk would have had to pay a “nominal” fine to the SEC, but he would not have been forced to admit any guilt in the matter. All of that probably sounded pretty good. The sticking point was likely that the deal would reportedly also have prohibited Musk from serving as Tesla’s chairman for two years and required the company to appoint two independent directors”

      • Sep 28, 2018 at 5:12 pm

        Phoenix_Ikki,

        Re-read the last sentence of your quote: It would banish Musk from Tesla for two years. That’s not a “slap on the wrist.” It might be the end of Tesla as current Tesla true believers and investment funds with big stakes see it. That’s why he didn’t go for it.

        • Phoenix_Ikki
          Sep 28, 2018 at 5:21 pm

          You’re right, I guess I am thinking 2 yrs is a slap on the wrist if it’s any other companies as compare to the lifetime ban they are now pursuing but given how much money and how much hype Tesla on a quarterly basis..you’re absolutely right, 2 yrs might as well be a life ban since Tesla simply can’t survive that long on hopes and dreams alone..

        • Rob
          Sep 29, 2018 at 4:56 pm

          The settlement is in and Elon keeps his CEO role, $20m fine is chump change and he can continue to tweet so long as he follows Tesla ‘procedures’. Admits no guilt. Well done Elon. Well done.

        • Sep 29, 2018 at 6:44 pm

          Not quite. You missed some important aspects:

          https://wolfstreet.com/2018/09/29/musk-settles-booted-as-tesla-chairman-sec-forces-tesla-to-control-his-lie-tweets/

          The whole case was about lying in his tweets – and not about stealing $2 billion. Tesla will have to control what he says in his tweets now, or else. Musk is forced out as chairman. There will be two independent board remembers, including an independent chairman, who will be his boss, and who might start nosing around a little, which could cause all kinds of problems.

  35. Trena L Bristol
    Sep 28, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Elon Musk is the 21st century’s PT Barnum. Barnum was well known in the 19th century for his circus, weird museums and being able to sell ice to an eskimo. The most well known promoter in the world back then. I am even more frustrated at the multitudes of Americans who continue to be duped by people like him. After the reading I certain book I am far less surprised. I highly recommend Fantasyland: How America went Haywire: 500 year history by Kurt Andersen. It is a very insightful look at the history behind why we do what we do. There have been brief periods when adults ran things which led to our unprecedented 20th century prosperity. Adults were kicked out of the room starting in the 80s hence our current problems. If they don’t get back in we can kiss off widespread prosperity ever again. I feel like I am hoping against hope for that to happen. Meanwhile China seems to only nation seriously engaged in any sort of long term economic planning which should pay off big in the long term.

    • MC01
      Sep 29, 2018 at 2:54 am

      There are two chief differences between Musk and Barnum.

      First, Barnum had to learn from his mistakes because nobody would have cut him any slack while the Cult of Musk (Musk’s Temple? Muskism?) will take the Leader’s side no matter how idiotic his actions. See “Funding secured”.

      Second, Barnum had to pay journalists (he had an average of 26 on payroll at any time in the US alone by his own admission) to promote his shows and exhibits, while Musk doesn’t need to.

    • Gandalf
      Sep 29, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Barnum was a promoter and entertainer, an illusionist of sorts like a modern day David Copperfield, or movie stars, and he delivered what his customers wanted – entertainment. Whether it was fake entertainment or not, who cares? Are movies real? Is Bradley Cooper really an American Sniper War Hero? No? Duh…

      The simple truth of the Musk and Tesla phenomenon is that it lies somewhere in that spectrum in the Silicon Valley world between real and truly ground breaking world changing technology at one end and pure hype, fakery, and vaporware at the other end.

      Examples: you have a hard nosed and very real Google at one end, moving up to the “Reality Distortion Field” of Steve Jobs, and the outright fraud of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos at the other end.

      I would put Musk somewhere between Steve Jobs and Elizabeth Holmes in that spectrum. Tesla did produce a real product, and like Apple’s iPhone, it was not a truly unique or new technology, but just an excellent package of other people’s new technologies, very stylishly designed and marketed, with an iconic leader able to wow investors and customers and the news media.

      Elizabeth Holmes wanted to be that iconic leader, but the problem was that Theranos never had a real working product, its very origins were based on flawed science and outright fraud.

      And here’s the only bottom line difference between Musk and Jobs: Steve Jobs and Apple were able to meet all the iPhone production goals by contracting the manufacturing to China and other Asian manufacturers. Today Apple produces millions of iPhones with a workforce of hundreds of thousands of low paid Chinese and other Asian workers.

      Musk and Tesla could have done the same, and could have been cranking out millions of Teslas in China by now, but car production in the US is such a nationalistic political sore point, unlike consumer electronics, that this would not have worked in the hype marketing of the Tesla mythology.

      It did not matter in the mythology of the iPhone that it was from the beginning made in China.

  36. Mean Chicken
    Sep 28, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Proof no matter how invincible you believe you are, stay away from drugs, including FLAKKA, for instance.

  37. Unamused
    Sep 28, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    SEC will drop the charges once the US goes fully corporatist after the upcoming ‘elections’. It’s possible they’ll keep the SEC around after that, just to make it appear some sort of ‘regulation’ still exists and give gullible investors a false sense of security, although it’s more likely that when corporations get together to write your new constitution that they’ll just quietly forget about it.

    Musk is just being a smart ass about the New Order of Things. Con artist? Yes. Billionaire frat boy? Yes. Genius? I’m not seeing it because it’s not there. ‘Genius’ is one of those meaningless terms marketing guys throw around to catapult the propaganda, again, for the benefit of gullible investors.

    Musk didn’t invent the automobile. He didn’t invent the electric automobile. He didn’t invent mass production. Anybody can run an automotive enterprise at a loss, so he’s certainly nothing special in that respect. His only provable skill is suckering people who have more money than brains. Again, nothing special, and he seems rightfully unconcerned about having oversold his twaddle.

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