Tesla Inc. (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk has apologized for calling one of the divers involved in a successful mission to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a cave in Thailand a “pedo guy.”
In a series of tweets, the tech entrepreneur said he had "spoken in anger" after the diver Vern Unsworth criticized his proposal to use a mini-submarine made out of a SpaceX rocket part to assist in the rescue mission. Unsworth called the project a "PR stunt" during an interview with CNN and said the billionaire could "stick his submarine where it hurts."
“My words were spoken in anger after Mr. Unsworth said several untruths & suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader,” Musk said on Twitter. “Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone.”
As this well-written article suggests, my words were spoken in anger after Mr. Unsworth said several untruths & suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 18, 2018
The apology came after Unsworth told a reporter from Australia's Nine Network on Monday that he is considering legal action. When asked if he would sue Tesla's CEO for defamation, the diver reportedly replied, “Yes, it's not finished."
Musk’s controversial comments also drew criticism from investors. The stock fell 4% on Monday after Musk's attack. On Tuesday, venture capitalist Gene Munster urged Musk to apologize, adding that his behavior was “fueling an unhelpful perception” of the entrepreneur’s leadership. He suggested Musk take a sabbatical from Twitter. (See also: Musk Tweets Hurt Tesla Stock, Again.)
James Anderson, a partner at Baillie Gifford, Tesla’s fourth-largest shareholder, told The Guardian, “I intend to convey my – predictable I trust – feelings to the company tomorrow.”
The billionaire's recent comments about journalists and stock analysts have also been decried.
Musk sent a group of engineers to the command center in Thailand days before the soccer team was eventually rescued. During the visit, engineers from SpaceX and The Boring Company, Musk’s space exploration and tunneling ventures, gifted the rescue team with a cylinder made out of the liquid oxygen transfer tube of a Falcon rocket. (See also: Elon Musk Sending Team to Aid Thailand Rescue.)
Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the command center, spoke out against the idea of using Musk’s submarine, arguing that it was “technologically sophisticated” but “not practical” for the rescue mission.