Musk’s all-nighters on Twitter worry Tesla investors


SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 15 (Reuters) – In 2018, Elon Musk worked and slept through the night at Tesla Inc’s ( TSLA.O ) factories in California and Nevada as the company struggled to ramp up production of the Model 3.

On Monday, Musk said he was working through the night at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters and would continue to “work and sleep here” until the social media platform he recently bought for $44 billion is fixed.

A self-proclaimed “nanomanager,” Musk’s penchant for working long hours in times of crisis has become a well-known part of his brand. But the billionaire’s deep dive into Twitter after a long acquisition spree has some Tesla investors worried about his ability to focus on his role as CEO of the world’s most valuable automaker.

“Tesla investors are going to be disappointed,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at venture capital firm Loup Ventures. “He probably spends more time on Twitter than a Tesla investor is comfortable with.”

Musk, who is expected to testify in court on Wednesday about whether Tesla’s $56 billion pay package was justified, did not respond to a Reuters email seeking comment.

“I have a Tesla too,” he tweeted Monday, saying he plans to work at the electric car maker for part of this week. Tesla has an office in Palo Alto, California and a factory in Fremont, California.

Shares of Tesla have fallen 50% since early April, when it announced it was buying a stake in Twitter. Musk’s sale of his own Tesla stock — a total of $20 billion since he disclosed his Twitter stake — added to that pressure.

Tesla faces a growing list of challenges, from demand concerns in China to a regulatory investigation into its claims about the capabilities of its “Autopilot” driver-assistance technology in the United States.

So far this month, Musk’s tweets about his efforts to relaunch Twitter have accounted for more than two-thirds of the shares he received on the platform in October, according to Reuters.

From Nov. 1 to Nov. 15, only 3% of his tweets went to Tesla, down from an average of almost 16% over the previous eight months.

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Munster said he expects Twitter to get Musk’s attention over the next six to 12 months, saying Tesla is a more mature company than it was in the past and is less immediately trusted by Musk.

In recent days, Musk said that his workload has increased significantly since buying Twitter.

“I have a lot of work on my plate,” he said via video link to a business conference in Indonesia on Monday, adding that he works “seven days a week from morning to night.”

“Once Twitter gets it right, I think it’s an easier thing to run than SpaceX or Tesla,” Musk said at the Baron investment conference earlier this month, referring to the aerospace company he also runs.

Tesla investor Ross Gerber, a strong supporter of Musk, said Tuesday that Tesla needs to find a deputy for its multi-tasking chief executive. “I think he’s finally gotten to a point where he’s really challenging himself. I think they’ve got to find the right person. And honestly, they just don’t have that person.”

‘MINIMUM TIME’

Tesla’s board expressed concern about Musk’s commitment to SpaceX and several smaller companies. Tesla chairman Robyn Denholm said in a 2018 email that Musk’s “minimum amount of time” at Tesla was becoming more and more problematic, according to court documents related to the salary judgment. A $56 billion pay package for him without requiring his full-time attention.

Another board member, Ira Ehrenpreis, noted in court that Musk was paid by results, not time, echoed by Musk in a 2021 deposition. At Tesla’s annual meeting in August, Musk acknowledged his colleagues and responded to a question about “key man risk,” saying: “We have a very talented team here. So Tesla will continue to do very well even if I’m kidnapped by aliens or maybe I returned to my home planet.”

Musk previously proved his doubters wrong, and some early investors said they expected him to be up for the Twitter challenge. Billionaire investor Tim Draper told Reuters: “If you get a businessman who does everything he does, we just have to kiss his feet. The guy is awesome.”

But others have lost patience.

Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, a longtime Tesla bull, noted last week that “Musk has managed to do what bears have failed to do for years — crush Tesla stock.”

Ives called Twitter an “albatross,” a “distraction” and a “money pit” for Musk. “The Twitter circus is slowly starting to affect Tesla’s original EV brand,” he said.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Akash Sriram in Bengaluru Additional reporting by Aditya Soni and Yurvaj Malik in Bengaluru Editing by Kevin Krolicki, Ben Klayman, Peter Henderson and Matthew Lewis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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