Tesla's stock falls sharply after Elon Musk's tearful interview

NewsGeneralRead Whistleblower claims cover-up of illegal activities at Tesla Gigafactory
By Robin Leigh Chetty

Tesla shares closed at $305.50, their lowest level since August 1, as analysts and business professors questioned whether the company's board should grant Musk a leave or even replace him with a more seasoned CEO.

Tesla investors tapped the breaks on Friday morning, pushing shares of the electric vehicle maker down 8 percent after unsettling comments by founder Elon Musk were reported.

"Tesla seems well on the way to achieving a steady weekly production rate of 5 to 6k units per week", Evercore analysts said after a two-day visit to the Tesla facility. Honest and raw quotes from Elon Musk, such as his statement that "from a personal pain standpoint, the worst is yet to come" despite Tesla's progress in its operations, painted a rather gloomy picture of the company - particularly its leader.

Tesla's chief also said his friends "are really concerned" about him. He would offer 20 percent above shares' trading price, rounded up to $420, the number being a weed reference.

The interview also raises concerns about Musk's drug use. He has frequently bantered with those betting against his company's shares via social media.

Elon Musk has acknowledged exhaustion from overwork as he deals with the aftermath of a market-rattling tweet on taking Tesla private - a mess that worsened with reports that USA regulators subpoenaed him over the statement.

The unusual nature of the announcement raised many questions, and has even resulted in a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission. But he told the newspaper that he wrote the tweet inside a Tesla Model S while he was driving to the airport, and that no one else reviewed it. "It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien", he told the newspaper. "If you have anyone who can do a better job, please let me know". The NYT recap of its interview notes that some board members are anxious about the Ambien use, thinking that it just doesn't work and "instead contributes to late-night Twitter sessions ..."

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'There were times when I didn't leave the factory for three or four days - days when I didn't go outside, ' he told the paper in an interview where he also dismissed claims he smoked weed.

"They can have the job".

Tesla executives have tried for some time to recruit a Chief Operating Officer, a second in command that could hopefully keep Musk under control, but so far have failed to find anyone.

Musk, in a company-wide email, accused an unnamed Telsa employee of "quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations".

When Tesla CEO Elon Musk chokes up, Tesla's stock price gets depressed as well. But much of it comes from Musk's own statements issuing lofty goals for production of cars or turning a sustained profit starting this quarter.

On Thursday, Reutersreported that a former employee fired from Tesla's Gigafactory filed a new whistleblower lawsuit alleging that the company spied on employees and did not disclose to investors a theft of $37 million in copper and other raw materials.

Taking inspiration from SpaceX, a privately-held Tesla could avoid some of the stress associated with quarterly financial disclosures and pressure from short sellers that hold over $10 billion in bets that the company's shares will slide backward.

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