Elon Musk doesn’t think his tweets have the power to move markets.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO and world’s richest person said as much in a profile in Time — Musk was named the magazine’s Person of the Year for 2021 for his commitment to the environment and to space exploration.
In an interview with Time’s Molly Ball, Jeffrey Kluger, and Alejandro de la Garza published Monday, Musk discussed his Twitter habit, a pastime that makes him easily the most famous CEO on the planet and probably the most adored and most criticized in equal measure.
But it’s also a habit that has landed him in hot water with the US government: In 2018, Musk faced the ire of the Securities and Exchange Commission over a tweet claiming he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 per share — the share price being a drug reference and a joke to impress his then-girlfriend, Grimes. The tweet sent Tesla’s share price skyrocketing 14%.
The SEC filed suit against Musk, accusing him of making “false and misleading statements” — Musk and Tesla later settled, agreeing to pay $20 million apiece without admitting guilt. Musk also stepped down as chairman of Tesla’s board, and Tesla was required to appoint a new committee that would oversee Musk’s communications.
But Musk told Time that he doesn’t think he bears much responsibility for what happens after he tweets.
“Markets move themselves all the time, based on nothing as far as I can tell,” Musk told Time. “So the statements that I make, are they materially different from random movements of the stock that might happen anyway? I don’t think so.”
But there are several examples of Tesla’s stock moving following a Musk tweet. Last month, Tesla shares dipped after Musk tweeted that the company hadn’t yet signed a deal with Hertz, despite the car-rental firm announcing it had ordered 100,000 Tesla Model 3 sedans, the largest-ever electric vehicle purchase.
Also last month, Tesla dropped 7% after Musk asked his Twitter followers whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock — 3.5 million people voted in the poll in 24 hours.
And when Musk tweeted in May 2020 that he thought Tesla’s stock price was “too high,” shares of the automaker dropped by about 9%.