The lesson from Elon Musk’s ‘funding secured’ mess is to never tweet

Never tweet. It’s a simple rule that you, me, and everyone who uses the hellish but seemingly indispensable social media platform should follow — if …

Never tweet. It’s a simple rule that you, me, and everyone who uses the hellish but seemingly indispensable social media platform should follow — if not exactly by the letter, then certainly in spirit. And there’s perhaps no greater example of that truism than the tweet sent one year ago today by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

“Am considering taking Tesla private at $420,” he tweeted on August 7th, 2018. “Funding secured.” Those few words — the last two specifically — created an entirely new fire for Musk to put out at a time when he was already mired in the self-described “hell” of Model 3 production. He did not, as it turned out, have any funding secured to do such a thing.

Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018

Without rehashing the entire experience, which we documented in detailoverthelastyear, here are some of the direct consequences of that decision to answer Twitter’s eternal prompt of “What’s Happening?”

  • Forced out as Tesla chairman.
  • Paid a $20 million fine.
  • Tesla paid a $20 million fine.
  • Musk bought $20 million in Tesla stock to essentially make up for the fine.
  • Appointed two new independent directors to the company’s board.
  • Agreed to have his tweets reviewed by Tesla’s in-house counsel.

That last point is especially relevant because, in February, the SEC tried to hold Musk in contempt for violating that part of the settlement. This kicked off another stage of the battle, one that very publicly played out in court over the course of a few months. In the end, the two sides agreed to amend the settlement to be more specific about what Musk can and can’t tweet without approval — language he might have just violated again.

In this modern age, bad tweets abound. They’re met with ratios or reported to Twitter itself, and are often, ultimately, deleted. You don’t usually see such concrete evidence of how bad a tweet can break, though. Millions of dollars, months of headaches and distractions, and a proverbial door that the money cops can walk through every time they think Musk might have tweeted something that harms his company’s shareholders.

To be fair (I guess?) to Musk, these are the kinds of consequences he was trying to avoid by taking the company private! And for what it’s worth, the fact that he didn’t have “funding secured” from Saudi Arabia meant he ultimately avoided what certainly would have been immense scrutiny from… well, everyone, following the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Saudi Arabia does still own about 5 percent of Tesla’s stock that it bought on public markets, though it hedged that position earlier this year.) But if you’re going to announce that you have lined up Saudi Arabian cash to take your multibillion-dollar company private in the middle of the trading day, you should probably resist the siren song of tweeting, put down the phone, and wait until that money actually exists.

Which brings me back to my original point: “never tweet.” Again, I believe fully in the spirit of this rule as opposed to the letter of it, and often use it as a mantra to back myself off of any Twitter ledge I find myself on. I still tweet (sometimes a lot!). But more often than not, I think of the proverbial bullet Musk took, and do a survey of the resulting damage, tap “Cancel” and then “Delete.” As much as I love Twitter, we’d all probably be better off putting a bit of distance between it and our synapses anyway. Or, at the very least, burying it in our drafts while we cool off. We all might not have the fate of a massive company riding on the things that we publish on the platform, but if Musk’s messy year is good for anything, it’s reminding us how quickly things can get out of hand.

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A year later, Tesla could use buyout-like focus

CEO Elon Musk was upbraided for tweeting he had “funding secured” to take the carmaker private 12 months ago. Tesla now trades at barely half his …

Context News

Tesla shares were trading a little below $232 on Aug. 7, down nearly 39% from the level of exactly one year ago, when Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted that he was “considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”

Almost two months later the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil lawsuit against Musk, arguing he had made “false and misleading statements” about the prospects of a deal, which failed to materialize.

To settle the case, Musk agreed to step down as chairman for at least three years, submit his tweets to be reviewed by Tesla before being published and pay a $20 million fine. Tesla also had to pay the same amount as well as add two independent directors to its board.

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Elon Musk’s The Boring Company Launching In China

Tesla and SpaceX chief executive officer Elon Musk is scheduled to visit China by the end of August. The tech CEO will speak at the World Artificial …

Tesla and SpaceX chief executive officer Elon Musk is scheduled to visit China by the end of August. The tech CEO will speak at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference from August 29 until August 31 in Shanghai. He will also launch the China-based unit of The Boring Company, which is his very own tunneling startup company.

The latest info about Elon Musk’s attendance on the World Artificial Intelligence Conference was reported by local Chinese media outlets. Sina.com reported that Elon Musk will be one of the speakers at the conference along with academic leaders and over 100 experts in their respective industry. The World Artificial Intelligence Conference will also have around 300 exhibitors, and more than 10,000 have already registered to be at the event.

The report added that some of the expected topics to be discussed at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference are forte of Elon Musk. Additionally, the conference will host discussions and talks about artificial intelligence as it is used in technologies like environment-friendly solutions and full self-driving process. New development in artificial intelligence will also be discussed at the conference.

On Twitter, Elon Musk confirmed his attendance at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference. He also revealed that hi trip on the Southeast Asian country would include the launching of The Boring Company in China. The recent announcement is a surprise to the followers of the CEO’s tunneling business, especially since the idea of the company being launched in China has not really been discussed previously.

The Boring Company launching in China would be a strategic move for Tesla. So far, China has proven that it is open to the ambitious project of the SpaceX and Tesla CEO. This can be seen in the Southeast Asian country’s initiative to exceed the timetable of the construction of Gigafactory 3.

Tesla CEO @elonmusk will attend (WAIC) World Artificial Intelligence Conference of 2019 in Shanghai China at August, 29~31th$TSLA#Teslahttps://t.co/qwUGll3bVOpic.twitter.com/jfgv0rz3hB— Vincent (@vincent13031925) August 3, 2019

If Elon Musk could get the same level of support the Chinese government extended to Tesla for The Boring Company, it would not be surprising to see the tunneling startup breaking ground massive projects in the country pretty soon. It would also be the greatest irony since The Boring Company has been receiving negative feedback and opposition.

There are endless possibilities that could happen for SpaceX, Tesla, and The Boring Company in China with Elon Musk’s upcoming visit. It is possible that the CEO would like to see if the country would be the first-ever to welcome his vision concerning his tunneling startup business.

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Elon Musk Plans To Launch Boring Company Business In China

One user asked whether the Chinese unit would be digging tunnels underwater, to which Musk simply replied “yes.” Musk’s Boring Company has had …

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is planning to bring his The Boring Company’s services to China.

The SpaceX and Tesla founder revealed on Twitter that he will be launching a Chinese unit of his tunneling and transportation startup company sometime this month.

Musk revealed his company’s plans in a response to a question posted on Twitter by a user regarding his planned visit to China this month. Musk is scheduled to speak at an AI conference in Shanghai called the World Artificial Intelligence Conference, which will be held from August 29 to August 31.

In his response, Musk revealed that he will be launching a subsidiary called The Boring Company China during his visit to the country.

A flood of questions immediately followed Musk’s statement on the social media platform. One user asked whether the Chinese unit would be digging tunnels underwater, to which Musk simply replied “yes.” Musk’s Boring Company has had a rough start in the United States, but following the acquisition of several major projects, the world has now taken notice.

The aptly named tunneling company was able to bag its first commercial contract just a few months ago in Las Vegas. The company was given the $48.7 million contract to build and operate an underground network of tunnels under the city to transport people to and from major convention centers.

The underground network in Las Vegas will include two major tunnels with fully-autonomous electric vehicles ferrying people to and from different locations.

While fully autonomous driving is yet to be commonplace in US roads, the underground tunnels will be the perfect controlled environment for Musk’s Tesla vehicles.

Work on the tunnels is currently underway, but Musk’s company will still need to undergo at least three months of safety testing before it becomes available for public use.

Apart from the Las Vegas contract, Musk’s company had won a bid in June of last year to build a high-speed underground transportation system that would connect Chicago’s O’Hare airport to the city’s downtown area.

Prior to acquiring the Las Vegas contract, Musk’s tunneling company had built a proof of concept in Hawthorne, California. The Boring Company built a 1.14mile-long tunnel from SpaceX’s headquarters to a neighborhood about a mile away.

Last month, the company was able to accumulate over $120 million through the sale of its stocks to outside investors. This means that the firm does have the liquidity to set up an overseas subsidiary and China will likely be a worthwhile market for its unique services.

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Musk Reads: SpaceX’s Starship Gets a Reveal Date

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. … The Boring Company aims to speed up tunneling and reduce costs through a …

Starship’s reveal date approaches; hyperloop teams pave the way to maximum speeds; and The Boring Company comes to China. It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #93.

Musk Quote of the Week

“Orbital refilling is vital to humanity’s future in space.”

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

SpaceX

The Starship, SpaceX’s stainless steel rocket designed to take humans to Mars, has a reveal date: August 24 at the Boca Chica test facility in Texas. The presentation is expected to be a detailed review of the first orbital Starship, as Musk details each design decision ahead of further development. The first version is expected to feature three Raptor engines, a far cry from the 41 engines expected on the final version. The reveal comes just weeks after a miniaturized version, the Starhopper, completed its first non-tethered hop. The Starship is expected to complete its first commercial mission, launching a telecommunications satellite, sometime in 2021.

The Starship’s refueling system got a big boost last week, as NASA announced plans to work with SpaceX on ways to transfer propellant in orbit. The idea allows rockets to fly into space with less fuel and top up before continuing their journey. Musk stated in September 2016 that without this, the Mars-bound rocket would need to be five to 10 times the size and cost. NASA started its Robotic Refueling Mission 3 in December 2018 with the goal of cryogenically storing fuel for six months to see if it leads to any fluid loss, a critical aspect of maintaining such a top-up point. Musk has declared the technology as “vital to humanity’s future in space.” Read more.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is expected to launch the AMOS-17 on August 6 from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The 6,500kg satellite, built by Boeing, will provide communications services in Africa. The Falcon 9 supporting this mission previously flew on the Telstar 19 VANTAGE and Es’hail-2 missions, and SpaceX does not plan to recover the rocket after this mission. A static test fire of the rocket completed on August 4 following a delay due to a suspect valve.

Hyperloop

Why has hyperloop, with a current speed record of 288 mph, not reached its promised top speeds of 700 mph? According to two pod design teams that spoke to Inverse, it’s because we haven’t built a long enough track yet. TUM Hyperloop places the magic length at around nine miles, while Delft Hyperloop suggests 44 miles would be long enough to reach those top speeds. SpaceX’s hyperloop track only measures 0.8 miles, but next year’s competition is expected to feature a 6.2-mile curved track. These demonstrations could pave the way for longer, public tracks. Read more.

The Boring Company

The Boring Company is coming to China. At the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, set to take place August 29 to 31, Musk plans to take the wraps off a China branch of his tunnel-digging venture. The Boring Company aims to speed up tunneling and reduce costs through a variety of measures, but its car-in-a-tunnel pitch has received a mixed response from American cities.

China, which increased transport infrastructure spending by nearly five percent year-over-year in the quarter ending March, could prove receptive to efficiency-boosting innovations in the sector. Musk praised China’s infrastructure progress in February 2018 as “100 times faster” than the United States in response to the construction of a train station that was built in just nine hours. He explained the difference between the two as being due to “an exponential growth in bureaucracy & a self-serving private sector consultant industry.”

The Boring Company’s expansion into China comes as workers race ahead to complete the Shanghai Gigafactory, Tesla’s first overseas factory, where the company will produce entry-level versions of the Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV. Musk suggested at the Gigafactory’s January opening that a Chinese engineer could one day rise in the ranks to become global CEO, a remark he repeated last month.

Photo of the Week

Starship takes shape in Texas.

The Elonporium

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The Ultra-Fine Print

This has been Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #93, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

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