Mark Cuban Defends Elon Musk Amid Tesla Controversy

Billionaire investor Mark Cuban has jumped to the defense of Elon Musk. He likened the Tesla Inc. (TSLA) CEO to entrepreneurs heading other "great companies" and claimed that while his eccentric personality may shock the public, it's also what makes his firm great.

"When you invest in an entrepreneur, you get the personality,” Cuban said in an interview with CNBC when he was asked to weigh in on Musk's going-private tweet and the controversy surrounding it. "Elon is quite the entrepreneur. How can you expect anything different?” (See also: Elon Musk Says He's Working With Silver Lake, Goldman Sachs on Going-Private Proposal.)

The "Shark Tank" host and owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks likened Musk to leaders of other big tech companies, noting that late Apple Inc. (AAPL) chief Steve Jobs, Amazon.com Inc.’s (AMZN) boss Jeff Bezos and Netflix Inc.'s (NFLX) Reed Hastings were also sharply criticized in the past for their unconventional behavior. "Everyone complained at one point or another about Steve. He got fired," Cuban said. "You look at Amazon. Everybody complained about Jeff [Bezos]. 'He's not trying to make any money. He's not giving guidance. He's not doing this, he's not doing that.'"

During the interview, Cuban, who does not hold any Tesla shares but owns two of the electric car maker’s vehicles, advised investors worried about the growing stigma surrounding Tesla to see Musk’s “uniqueness” as a strength rather than a drawback. Those who can’t appreciate that, he added, should “buy another stock.”

"This is a guy who is sleeping in the factory. This is a guy who is pushing, pushing, pushing," Cuban said, adding that investors "should be grateful" that Tesla’s CEO is "so committed" to the company. 

His comments came as Musk continues to face scrutiny for tweeting last week that he plans to take Tesla private. The company and its CEO have been sued by investors, who claim that Musk fraudulently cooked up speculation of a buyout to lift the electric car maker’s share price.

Cuban, who believes Musk should stop worrying about short sellers and see them as "buyers in waiting," brushed aside a question about the possibility of the deal to take Tesla private falling through. "I mean, look, the way we run the country, we run some companies now, too," he said with a chuckle.

Musk has since written an open letter to investors defending his decision to reveal that Tesla was exploring a take-private deal. In the blog post, the entrepreneur confirmed that his claim that he had already secured funding for a buyout was based on repeated and ongoing conversations with the official sovereign wealth fund of the Saudi Arabian government.

Over the past year, Musk has also come under criticism for denouncing the media’s coverage of autonomous-vehicle crashes, rebuffing analysts, 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” and frequently struggling to meet ambitious production targets. (See also: Elon Musk Caves to Investor Pressure and Apologizes to Diver.)

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