Elon Musk has been very active on Twitter recently, but his actions haven’t helped his image — or his company.
Tesla stock dropped nearly 4 percent after its CEO called Vern Unsworth a “pedo” during an argument on Twitter. Vern, a vital part of the Thai cave rescue, had criticized Musk’s attempts to help with the operation. “He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” Vern told CNN in an interview. “It just had absolutely no chance of working. He had no conception of what the cave passage was like.”
Musk lashed out in response, calling the British diver a “pedo” in a now-deleted tweet. While Musk has deleted the post from his account, screenshots keep him from erasing this misstep from his track record.
This comment has received quite a bit of criticism, and his investors are picking up on the unrest. On Monday, Tesla lost 2.8 percent in stocks before sliding a further 1 percent during after-hours trading. While the numbers seem small, the negative percentages imply a great loss of faith on behalf of investors. To make matters worse for the tech tycoon, Unsworth is considering legal action against Elon Musk for the libelous attack.
On Monday, the Guardian interviewed Vern at the cave in Thailand. “I believe he’s called me a pedophile,” he told journalists. When asked if he planned on pursuing legal action over the remark, Unsworth replied with: “Yes, it’s not finished.”
If his tweets are any indication, Musk is now regretting the baseless barb. Elon took to Twitter late Tuesday, saying that his words were spoken in anger. “Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him,” he said in a tweet. “The fault is mine and mine alone.”
His apology comes as no surprise. Several people have commented on Elon Musk’s erratic behavior, including the managing partner at Loup Ventures. In an open letter, Gene Munster told Elon that his exchange with Vern “crossed the line.”
Gene then went on to give some advice. “Thankfully, the road to regaining investor confidence is well traveled. It starts with an apology,” he wrote. “Then, focus your message on your progress toward achieving Tesla’s mission. You might consider taking a Twitter sabbatical.”
It seems Elon got the letter and has made an attempt to salvage his reputation with investors. The apology is a step in the right direction, but we’ll see if he takes the recommended “Twitter sabbatical.”