Tesla’s celebrations after achieving their impressive target of producing 5,031 Model 3 sedans and 1,913 Model S sedans and Model X SUVs in one week didn’t last very long. After crossing that milestone and later announcing that Tesla would be building a new factory in China, Gigafactory 3, that could produce 500,000 vehicles a year, the price of Tesla’s shares rose about two percent, reaching $327.677 at their highest.
But this increase didn’t last very long either. A tweet from Tesla’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk calling a British diver who was assisting in the rescue of the twelve Thai schoolboys and their soccer coach from a cave in Northern Thailand a “Pedo” led to the stock plunging a mere week after its rise, reaching $315.16 at its highest.
The Rescue Mission
The boys and their coach had gotten stuck in a cave underneath a mountain on June 23rd. It was one of the boys’ birthday and they went on an exploration trip of the mountain range after soccer practice. It had been raining for a few days and the cave flooded., trapping the twelve boys and their coach inside. When they were reported missing, a rescue mission started and lasted two whole weeks. After someone tweeted, asking him to help with the rescue, Elon Musk went to Thailand and brought a miniature submarine, designed by Tesla and Space X’s engineers, to help the boys get out of the cave because they couldn’t swim. The submarine wasn’t used eventually, and instead the rescuers used a stretcher for each kid, pulled by 5 professional divers. Musk left the submarine behind anyway and said it “may be useful in the future.”
Among the divers who helped rescue the boys and their coach was a British man called Vern Unsworth who said that Musk’s submarine “had absolutely no chance of working” because its makers “had no idea what the cave passage was like”. He also called the submarine “just a PR stunt” and said that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts”. Musk then proceeded to question if Vern was even at the cave during the rescue mission and tweeted:
“Never saw this British guy who lives in Thailand (sus) at any point when we were at the caves. Only people in sight were the Thai navy/army guys, who were great. Thai navy seals escorted us in – total opposite of wanting us to leave.”
“Water level was actually very low & still (not flowing) – you could literally have swum to Cave 5 with no gear, which is obv how the kids got in. If not true, then I challenge this dude to show final rescue video.”
“You know what, don’t bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”
The reactions to the Tweet
As provoking as the diver’s comment may have been, Musk’s response tweets upset many of his fans and people around the world who consider Vern a hero. It also resulted in a 3.5% drop in Tesla’s shares on Monday bringing the total drop in the price of Tesla’s shares up to at least 17 percent; fluctuating between $252 to $370 from April through June 2018. Musk has been working hard to turn a profit for Tesla this year after they have failed to make a profit since it was founded in 2003 and had lost $2 billion last year alone. In an attempt to cut costs and increase revenue, Tesla even had let go of 9% of its employees this June.
Musk’s tweet was deleted, but not before Vern had taken screenshots, and had prompted him to consider taking legal actions against Musk, saying: “It’s not finished.”
Tesla has had some bad publicity over the past few months and fans, as well as investors, are not too happy. We at FollowElonMusk.com received some negative comments and emails following the “Pedo” tweet. One commentator called Musk childish and another called him an eccentric genius. Yet most comments advised Elon to apologize to the diver and focus on meeting production deadlines.
Tesla’s investors have asked Musk to apologize for his tweets and also suggested that he takes a break from social media for a while. Elon did one of those things and tweeted an apology to the diver.
As this well-written article suggests, my words were spoken in anger after Mr. Unsworth said several untruths & suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 18, 2018
Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 18, 2018
On a phone call with Reuters, Vern said that he was aware of Musk’s apology and didn’t give any further comment on how he had heard of the apology and whether he was still going to sue Musk or if he was going to be accepting financial settlement.
We certainly don’t want Musk off social media, but with such big ramifications to his tweets, we hope he would make sure Tesla gets better publicity in the second half of 2018.