Tesla Inc. (TSLA) founder Elon Musk is known for his outspoken and sometimes bizarre behavior, often turning to Twitter to express his feelings about everything from production snafus with its new Model 3 sedan to raising concerns about corporate sabotage.
That need to share on social media has sparked the ire of some investors, who would rather he keep quiet and focus on the task at hand: running his electric car company. But if history is any evidence, that may not happen, given a new analysis of Musk’s tweeting habits by The Wall Street Journal that shows he has tweeted out comments about life, critics and business ideas some 4,925 times.
Tweets From Musk Up This Year
Since the start of 2018, the WSJ found Musk has been a “habitual” tweeter, churning out comments at a regular pace. The months of May and June were particularly hectic with tweets occurring during key times for his company. Take his June tweetstorm where Tesla announced it would cut around 9% of its workforce in what it said was a "difficult but necessary" reorganization exercise. That same month, Musk accused an employee of engaging in “quite extensive and damaging sabotage" to the business including changing the code on an internal product and sharing data with people outside the company.
In addition to being a constant tweeter, particularly this year, the number of tweets has been picking up over the years with a big jump starting in 2015 and continuing today. The Journal also found Musk doesn’t reserve special time to tweet, doing it at all hours of the day including during the workday as well as late at night. But Musk isn’t only about having his voice heard. He is also proficient at replying and isn’t discerning in whom he replies to. The paper’s analysis shows 41% of the replies were to Twitter users with 500 or fewer followers. (See also: Tesla May Need $10B Cash, Refinancing By 2020: GS.)
Tweets and Trouble
While many investors and industry watchers applaud a CEO’s use of Twitter to defend the company and get the word out, it can also harm an enterprise, which has been the case with Musk. In July the stock fell 3% after Musk lashed out at British rescue diver Vernon Unsworth, who was involved in the recent effort to save the Thai soccer team trapped in a cave, tweeting “sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.” Unsworth had criticized the tech billionaire’s plan to use a miniature submarine to assist in the rescue effort. The diver told reporters that he is considering suing Musk. Musk's allegations about the diver have since been deleted from his Twitter account. (See also: Musk Tweets Hurt Tesla Stock, Again.)
Musk also uses the platform to take on critics of his company, particularly short sellers and journalists, and to use it as a marketing tool. While Musk isn’t like any other CEO, on and off of Twitter he has said followers should take it all with a grain of salt. “The actual amount of time I spend on Twitter is tiny. My tweets are literally what I’m thinking at the moment, not carefully crafted corporate bs, which is really just banal propaganda,” Musk wrote in a June tweet.