So much for “funding secured.”
Tesla chief Elon Musk announced in a blog post Friday night that he would no longer seek to take the electric-car manufacturer private—an anti-climatic, probably inevitable end to two-and-half weeks that placed the CEO and his company under the microscope for all the wrong reasons. “Given the feedback I’ve received,” he wrote, “it’s apparent that most of Tesla’s existing shareholders believe we are better off as a public company,” adding that, “Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was ‘please don’t do this.’” Musk wrote that he told his board of directors on Thursday that he had decided Tesla should remain a publicly traded company, and that the members agreed.
Those directors are no doubt sleeping easier right now. Musk reportedly took even his own company by surprise when he tweeted on Aug. 7 that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share—causing the price of the stock to soar, the NASDAQ to halt Tesla trading, and, once it became clear the funding had maybe not been as secured as he’d said, the Securities and Exchange Commission to launch an investigation. The Twitter announcement came after several months in which Tesla has at times struggled to ramp up production of the Model 3, its first mass-market car, and as Musk has feuded with short sellers betting on the company to falter. By taking the company private, Musk’s thinking went, he could insulate Tesla from some of those outside pressures at a particularly critical time.
Putting aside the wisdom of going private or staying public, Musk suggested Friday that it was probably never going to happen. Institutional investors, for example, have internal rules that might have barred them from going along for the ride, Musk wrote in his blog post. Still, he also pointed out that “my belief that there is more than enough funding to take Tesla private was reinforced during this process,” likely his way of insisting that the funding he mentioned in his infamous tweet was totally secured.
Musk—who’s had a chaotic, apparently sleep-deprived couple of weeks with subplots involving Saudi sovereign wealth fund managers and Azealia Banks—seemed to have moved on to other topics by the time his latest announcement started making the rounds Friday night. Instead of using his now-infamous Twitter account to explain the decision to keep Tesla public, he was tweeting about vacuum tunnels.
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