Tesla's shares have fallen to their lowest level in two years as its CEO, Elon Musk, has been busy at Twitter implementing innovative cost-cutting measures such as not paying rent.
Dethroned in Forbes's plutocrat rankings earlier this week, Elon Musk has now been stripped of his title on the Bloomberg billionaires' list as well. The continuing slump in Tesla's (TSLA) share price has the CEO of the automaker and Twitter trailing Bernard Arnault, chair of France's LVMH luxury conglomerate. Bloomberg pegged Arnault's net worth at $171 billion vs. Musk's $164 billion as of late Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Twitter has stopped paying rent on its office space around the world and is auctioning off office supplies and kitchen equipment as Musk considers withholding severance from thousands of employees he laid off after purchasing the social network for $44 billion in October.
- Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk has lost the title of richest human in both the Bloomberg and Forbes rankings.
- Tesla's stock has lost more than half its value in 2022, and is down more than 30% since Musk bought Twitter on Oct. 27.
- Musk has fanned political controversy on Twitter by attacking former management's decision to suspend Donald Trump and deriding White House COVID-19 adviser Anthony Fauci.
- Musk has also stopped paying rent for Twitter's office space and is considering denying laid-off employees the severance he promised.
"You weren't expecting that, were you," comedian Dave Chapelle said to Musk Sunday night as the audience booed Musk after Chapelle brought him out on stage near the end of his set in San Francisco's Chase Center. "It sounds like some of the people you fired are in the audience."
Musk's Midas touch as visionary and self-titled technoking has deserted him as the EV maker's shares have fallen 56% in 2022 and 28% since Musk's Twitter purchase on Oct. 27 as of Tuesday. The stocks' slump has occurred amid heavy stock sales by the CEO, worries about the economic slowdown's effect on demand for the auto maker's aging lineup, and apprehensions about the fallout for Tesla's brand from Musk's increasingly controversial Twitter posts.
"So many issues with the Tesla brand, when the board can’t rein in the CEO," a money manager and Tesla shareholder tweeted after Musk attacked National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci while insulting transgender people. The White House press secretary called Musk's tweet "incredibly dangerous" and "disgusting."
Musk has also spent his time arguing that Twitter's former management was wrong to remove tweets containing content stolen from Hunter Biden's laptop, to limit the spread of a news story publicizing the materials, and to suspend the account of former President Donald Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Other social platforms also suspended Trump's account soon after for similar reasons.
Banks that lent Musk $13 billion for his buyout of Twitter reportedly may need to write-down the $10 billion secured by Twitter's assets by as much as 20%, absorbing the losses in their fourth-quarter results.
Musk has much more at stake. While his management style at Twitter and reluctance to pay bills have evoked comparisons with former President Donald Trump, the world's second-richest man has yet to show the same debt and banker management skills.