Tesla’s stock is down sharply in Friday trading. One likely reason for that: CEO Elon Musk tweeted that “Tesla stock price is too high imo.”
Musk posted that tweet at 11:11am Eastern time. At the time, Tesla’s stock was worth around $760—down less than 3 percent from Thursday’s closing price of $781.
By 11:30, the stock plunged to $722, a 5 percent fall in 19 minutes. It has since fallen further to around $710—about 9 percent lower than Thursday’s closing price. The broader stock market is down less than 3 percent today.
Musk has long been known for his colorful and sometimes controversial Twitter presence. One 2018 tweet got Musk in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission, while another made Musk the target of an unsuccessful libel lawsuit. But this week, Musk has been unusually provocative on Twitter—even by his own standards.
Possessions just weigh you down
In a series of Wednesday tweets, Musk praised states that were lifting some public health restrictions, calling for officials to “give people their freedom back!”
“FREE AMERICA NOW,” he wrote in another tweet.
He returned to those themes during Tesla’s Wednesday afternoon earnings call.
“If somebody wants to stay in their house, that’s great. They should be allowed to stay in their house and should not be compelled to leave,” Musk said. “But to say that they cannot leave their house, and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist, this is not democratic, this is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom.”
Musk continued tweeting about lockdowns on Thursday and Friday. But on Friday, Musk’s Twitter presence got weird.
Shortly before the tweet about Tesla being overpriced, Musk tweeted, “I am selling almost all physical possessions. Will own no house.”
Musk, who owns actor Gene Wilder’s former house, added that he would stipulate that the house “cannot be torn down or lose any [sic] its soul.” He added that he was “devoting myself to Mars and Earth. Possession [sic] just weigh you down.”
He wrote that his girlfriend, the musician Grimes, was “mad at me.” Grimes is pregnant, and Musk added she had a “baby due on Monday.”
He also tweeted out several lines from the Star Spangled Banner.
Musk is under a lot of pressure
Musk’s other company, SpaceX, has begun an ambitious program to manufacture its new Starship rockets on an unprecedented scale—part of his long-term plan to spearhead human settlement of Mars. Manufacturing rockets on this scale will require a lot of capital that SpaceX doesn’t have.
SpaceX raised $500 million in March, and that is unlikely to be the last time SpaceX needs to raise capital. But most investors are in no mood to finance risky new ventures given the coronavirus-related uncertainty.
It also doesn’t help to have Tesla hobbled by coronavirus-related shutdowns. Tesla’s main car manufacturing plant in Fremont, California has shut down at the order of county authorities. Musk owns billions of dollars worth of Tesla stock and is due to earn billions more if Tesla’s market capitalization rises—funds he could use to finance his Mars ambitions.
Musk sincerely wants to see large-scale Mars settlement begin in his lifetime and believes he doesn’t have time to lose. He desperately wants to see his Fremont factory re-opened so Tesla can resume its growth.
But while Musk has many talents, dealing constructively with stress and frustration isn’t one of them. He has a tendency to blow off steam online in ways that may ultimately be counterproductive.