Elon Musk’s flagship company Tesla’s stock hit a new two-year low of $150.04 on Friday morning, prompting renewed concerns that the billionaire’s recent acquisition and chaotic management of Twitter is crumbling the bedrock of his financial empire.
The stock dive took place the morning after Musk booted several prominent journalists from the platform, and after Musk spent the better part of this week offloading more than 22 million shares of Tesla stock, worth over $3.5 billion. Musk has now sold almost $40 billion worth of the electric vehicle company’s stock in the last year.
Musk’s tumultuous takeover of Twitter, a deal which was announced in April and finalized in October, has coincided with a truly abysmal year for technology markets. But Tesla has been underperforming NASDAQ’s Technology Sector Index (NDXT) by more than 20 points. As of Friday, the company is down 57.12 percent year to date compared to the NDXT being down 35.53 percent. The value of the company has plummeted from over $1 trillion at the beginning of the year, to less than $500 billion, and has cost Musk his title of “world’s richest man” in the process.
Friday’s plunge came after Musk suspended New York Times reporter Ryan Mac, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, Mashable’s Matt Binder, CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan, The Intercept’s Micah Lee, independent reporter Aaron Rupar, political commentator Keith Olbermann, and freelance journalist Tony Webster from Twitter. Most had voiced criticism of Musk’s content moderation decisions. Earlier this week, Musk impulsively rewrote Twitter’s content policies to deem any posts including the real-time location data a bannable offense. The platform-wide policy shift appears to have been retroactively created to justify the platform removing the accounts of Jack Sweeney, who tracked the movements of aircraft and private jets through publicly available aviation data. Musk accused journalists covering Sweeney’s ban of posting “my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service.” Rolling Stone has not identified any instances of the journalists posting direct coordinates to Musk’s location.
Throughout the week, investors have called on Musk to find someone else to run Twitter’s day- to-day operations, and shift his focus back to Tesla. On Wednesday, the EV company’s third-largest investor Leo KoGuan, tweeted that Musk had “abandoned Tesla” and that the company “has no working CEO.” Following the platform’s journalistic purge, investor Joe Cirincion tweeted a call for Musk to leave Twitter, accusing him of “killing the company with his antics.”
The company itself has admitted that they are “highly dependent on the services of Elon Musk, Technoking of Tesla and our Chief Executive Officer,” to manage the company. If investors have taken notice, so have major financial institutions. Goldman Sachs cut its price targets for Tesla earlier this week, citing the increasingly “polarizing” nature of Tesla’s branding given Musk’s involvement at Twitter, and recommended the company shift back to it’s “core attributes of sustainability and technology.”
Musk is also facing the threat of sanctions abroad. European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova on Friday accused the company of having violated the E.U.’s Digital Services Act and the Media Freedom Act through its “arbitrary suspension of journalists.”
“There are red lines,” she tweeted. “And sanctions, soon.”