Musk’s sleepless nights on Twitter have Tesla investors worried

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 15 (Reuters) – In 2018, Elon Musk worked through the night and slept 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 had worked through the night at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters and would continue to “work and sleep here” until the social media platform – which he has recently acquired for 44 billion dollars – be repaired.

A self-proclaimed “nanomanager,” Musk’s penchant for working long hours in times of crisis is a well-known part of his brand. But the billionaire’s deep dive into Twitter after a protracted takeover he tried to scrap 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 frustrated,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at venture capital firm Loup Ventures. “He’s probably going to spend more time on Twitter than any Tesla investor is comfortable with.”

Musk, who is expected to testify in court on Wednesday to find out whether a $56 billion pay package at Tesla is warranted, did not respond to an email from Reuters seeking comment.

He tweeted on Monday “I’ve got Tesla covered too,” saying he plans to work at the electric vehicle maker for part of this week. Tesla has an office in Palo Alto, California, and a factory in Fremont, California.

Tesla shares have fallen 50% since early April when it revealed it had taken a stake in Twitter. Sales of Musk’s own Tesla shares – totaling $20 billion since he revealed his stake on Twitter – have added to the pressure.

Tesla faces a growing list of challenges ranging from demand issues in China to a regulatory probe into claims it makes about the capabilities of its “Autopilot” driver-assist technology in the United States.

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

Tesla accounted for just 3% of his Nov. 1 tweets. 1 to Nov. 15, compared to an average of nearly 16% over the previous eight months.

Reuters Charts

Munster said he expects Twitter to get Musk’s attention over the next six to 12 months, adding that Tesla is a more mature company than before and less immediately dependent on Musk.

In recent days, Musk said his workload increased significantly after his Twitter purchase.

“I have too much work on my plates,” he said via video link at a business conference in Indonesia on Monday, saying he worked “morning till night, seven days a week.”

“Once Twitter is on the right track, I think it’s a much easier thing to manage than SpaceX or Tesla,” Musk said earlier this month at the Baron investment conference, referring to to the aerospace company he also runs.

Tesla investor Ross Gerber, a staunch Musk supporter, said Tuesday that Tesla needed to find a deputy for its multitasking CEO. “I think he’s finally gotten to a point where he’s really challenging himself. I think they have to find the right person. And frankly, they just don’t have that person.”

‘MINIMUM TIME’

Tesla’s board of directors has expressed concerns about Musk’s commitment to SpaceX and several smaller companies. Tesla Board Chair Robyn Denholm said in a 2018 email that Musk’s ‘minimal time’ at Tesla was becoming ‘increasingly problematic’, according to court documents related to her lawsuit. paid. A $56 billion salary for him without demanding his full-time attention.

Fellow board member Ira Ehrenpreis noted at trial that Musk was paid for results, not time spent, a view echoed by Musk in a 2021 deposition. Tesla in August, Musk responded to a question about “key man risk” by acknowledging his colleagues, saying “We have a very talented team here. So I think Tesla would continue to do very well even if I was kidnapped by aliens or I may have returned to my home planet.”

Musk has already proven his doubters wrong, and some early investors say they expect him to be up for the Twitter challenge. “When you have an entrepreneur doing everything he’s done, we should just kiss his feet. The guy is awesome,” billionaire investor Tim Draper told Reuters.

But others have lost patience.

“Musk has managed to do what the bears have tried unsuccessfully for years – crush Tesla shares,” Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, a longtime Tesla bull, said in a note last week.

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

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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