Dear Elon Tusk: It’s time to delete your Twitter
You’ve really got to quit Twitter.
Your tweets have already gotten you and your company in trouble. If you don’t watch it, they could end your tenure at Tesla, which could be damaging – maybe even disastrous for everyone involved.
Surely even you can see that whatever the benefits, your continued tweeting just isn’t worth the risks.
Look, I get it. As someone who’s fired off his fair share of intemperate or ill-considered tweets and Facebook posts, I understand. I know how hard it can be to stop yourself.
It’s so seductive. There’s the thrill you get from firing off just what you’re thinking or feeling right in the moment, unfiltered. There’s the excitement that comes from the instant reactions you get. There’s the adrenaline rush of engaging in heated debate with critics, back and forth.
And look, as a journalist, I love it. There’s nothing more boring than a CEO statement that’s been distilled through a public-relations department, removed of anything halfway interesting or edgy. It’s great fun to hear and write about the uncensored Elon Musk, or Elon Tusk, as your latest Twitter pleasantry would have it.
Elon, your tweets have gotten out of hand
But you’ve got to stop. For your own good, for that of your shareholders, for the sake of your company, you’ve got to step away. Your tweets – not to mention your other unvarnished communications – have gotten out of hand.
In the last year, on Twitter and elsewhere, you’ve raved at journalists, whistleblowers, and financial analysts. You’ve accused a cave diver of being a pedophile without any evidence. You’ve falsely claimed to have “funding secured” for taking Tesla private. You’ve tilted at the Securities and Exchange Commission, dubbing it the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”
Just last week, you told your Twitter following that Tesla expected to make 500,000 cars this year before acknowledging four hours later that it expected to make only about 400,000. Oops. And even after those tweets raised eyebrows at the SEC, you went after the agency again on Twitter.
Just what have you gotten for venting your spleen? Well, it’s true that a lot of your fans have liked your tweets. And you’ve gotten lots of publicity for them. So, I guess that’s something.
On the other hand, you and your company face multiple lawsuits as a result of your Twitter compulsion. Thanks to your “funding secured” tweets, the SEC forced you to step down as Tesla’s chairman, add new independent directors to the company’s board, and required you and the company to each pay a $20 million fine. And now, as a result of your tweets on Tesla’s production numbers – and failure to get them preapproved by company attorneys – a federal judge is seriously considering holding you in contempt of court, a move that could result in another big fine and in you being removed as Tesla’s CEO.
Maybe it’s just me, but all the likes you’ve gotten don’t seem as important in comparison.
Our warming planet needs you to quit being an ass
Look, as much pleasure as tweeting may give you, you’ve got bigger considerations. As you know, Tesla isn’t in the most stable of positions. It’s still trying to ramp up production of the Model 3 and produce a version that’s truly priced for mainstream consumers, not to mention one that’s a bit more bug-free. It’s got a factory to build and open in China and production to ramp there. It’s got a nearly $1 billion debt repayment to make next month. It’s got a growing number of challengers in the electric-car market.
And with all the executives who have left recently, Tesla needs your full attention – or at least as much as you can give it when you’re not running SpaceX or The Boring Company. Your employees are counting on you, as are your shareholders.
Heck, the rest of us are counting on you too. If the world is going to stave off global warming, we’re going to need electric vehicles to replace gas-powered ones and soon. And Tesla has been at the forefront of establishing a real mass market for electric cars and pushing the traditional carmakers to step up their electric-vehicle development efforts.
I know you hate the SEC right now, but the agency really seems like it was trying to protect you from yourself. By requiring Tesla to put in place a policy for communications with shareholders and getting it to put someone in charge of preapproving your tweets, the agency was, in a way, trying to help you guard against your worst impulses.
You’ve shown that you’re going to ignore such safeguards, that when it comes to Twitter nothing’s going to hold you back. And your closest friends, Tesla’s board of directors, has made it clear that they’re not going to have an “intervention” to break you of the habit.
So I think it’s time for you to voluntarily and preemptively take a more dramatic step.
Step away from Twitter. Just delete it off your phone. Sign out of the social network in your web browser and close the tab.
I promise, you’ll feel a lot better. And so will the rest of us.
Well, maybe not us journalists, but you don’t like us much anyway.