- REUTERS/Bobby Yip
- Rolling Stone is out with a massive profile of Tesla founder Elon Musk, and it’s pretty personal.
- Musk’s company has come under attack from short sellers who say, correctly, that it doesn’t turn a profit.
- Musk called those people lying “jerks” and explained to his children that they “want us to die.”
Elon Musk has feelings, and you’ll see a lot of them in Rolling Stone’s profile of the billionaire founder of Tesla and Space X published Wednesday.
In it, reporter Neil Strauss describes a pretty vulnerable moment in which Musk explains to his children why some “jerks” (people on Wall Street) are shorting Tesla’s stock.
The way the short sellers tell it, Musk is doing nothing more than burning cash and selling empty promises.
Indeed the company’s last earnings call showed that Tesla’s highly anticipated Model 3 was still behind schedule, and that it would have to pull resources from its other models to ramp up manufacturing. It also showed that the company posted a bigger loss than any other quarter in its history.
- Adjusted loss per share: -$2.92 (-$2.23 expected).
- Revenue: $2.98 billion ($2.39 billion expected).
- Free cash flow: –$1.4 billion (-$1.2 billion expected).
Of course, to Musk, these problems are not simply academic – not simply about the logic of investing. Tesla’s his company, and according to this Rolling Stone piece he’s clearly taking things personally.
…”I’m looking at the short losses,” Musk says, transfixed by CNBC on his iPhone. He speaks to his kids without looking up. “Guys, check this out: Tesla has the highest short position in the entire stock market. A $9 billion short position.” His children lean over the phone, looking at a table full of numbers that I don’t understand. So his 13-year-old, Griffin, explains it to me: “They’re betting that the stock goes down, and they’re getting money off that. But it went up high, so they lost an insane amount of money.” “They’re jerks who want us to die,” Musk elaborates. “They’re constantly trying to make up false rumors and amplify any negative rumors. It’s a really big incentive to lie and attack my integrity. It’s really awful. It’s…” He trails off, as he often does when preoccupied by a thought. I try to help: “Unethical?” “It’s…” He shakes his head and struggles for the right word, then says softly, “Hurtful.”
You’ve got to read this whole thing.