Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a polarizing figure, a billionaire entrepreneur who can incite immediate and divergent reactions with a single tweet. His actions during Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call Wednesday were deemed both unhinged and brilliant, spurious and authentic, cagey and candid.
Whatever adjective people want to use, Musk’s comments on the call had a measurable effect on the company’s share price in after-hours trading. The call started out normal enough, but around the 32-minute mark, after Musk provided opening comments and answered about five questions from analysts, the mood shifted. And then the share free-fall began.
Here are some of the most interesting comments Musk gave on the call:
Bonehead Questions Are Not Cool
Analyst Tony Sacconaghi with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co was asking a followup question on Tesla’s lowered capital expenditure plans. He specifically asked about what the company’s capital requirements will be for the remainder of the year, when Musk interrupted him.
These Questions Are Killing Me
Joseph Spak with RBC Capital Market was the next analyst to be victimized by Musk’s sass. Spak asked a question about reservations for the Model 3.
With “YouTube,” Musk was referring Galileo Russell, host of the “HyperChange TV” YouTube channel, who was invited to be on the call to represent retail investors. The week prior, Russell had asked Musk via Twitter to “give retail investors a voice.” Musk responded, “Ok.”
Journalists Are Killing People
Russell was able to ask a number of questions, including when the company might launch its Tesla Network, a program that would let Tesla owners rent or share fully autonomous vehicles. Tesla vehicles are not fully autonomous today, and Musk was asked about the timeline for when the company might be able to achieve that.
Musk initially said regulatory approval made it tricky to guess timing. It was here that he went onto a rant of sorts about journalists and their role in reporting on autonomous vehicle accidents, and more specifically coverage of Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot feature.
Here are a few of his best lines.
a bit later …
In Musk’s opening remarks, he talked about the company’s plans to balance automation and more manual tasks. He gave one example of how the company went to0 far with its automation, and that’s when we learned about flufferbot.
Throwing Shade to Daimler CEO
Musk was asked a question about the battery technology on its Tesla Semi, a heavy-duty truck the company unveiled in November.Russell said during his question that “even I believe the CEO of Daimler said it breaks the laws of physics. ” Musk fired back with this zinger.
Moats Are Lame
Russell was back at it, asking Musk why the company is willing to open its network of fast chargers to other automakers. Why not keep it a walled garden or a “moat?” (Musk said they would open the network to automakers for a fee.)
Tesla Has a Leak
When asked for an update of when Tesla was get to 3,000 and 4,000 per week on the Model 3, Musk’s response was that they’d learn when it leaks. Because there are leaks. And lots of them.
Day Trader? Sell Your Tesla Stock
As Musk continued to talk about volatility in Tesla stock, he made a pointed reference to day traders.
Then, a bit later: