Tweets, CEOs and Challenges

By Robbin Laird

Apparently, billionaires like to tweet, or at least some of them.

And their tweeting, although self liberating in the sense of getting those inner thoughts off their chest, often create problems for them, and certainly for their staffs.

Take the case of Elon Musk.

As reported by The Daily Grind, this is the situation with regard to Musk and his tweets.

So here is what Musk did.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk shocked Wall Street last week by tweeting that he planned to take his company private at $420 a share.

That’s about 11% higher than the stock’s trading price at close on Tuesday.

In his tweet, Musk suggested he had secured funding from Saudi Arabia and was waiting on a shareholder vote to take the company private.

If true, this would be the largest corporate buyout in US history.

A wonderful announcement to the world of how he would maneuver out of the problems, which faced the company as it works its way towards hope for profitability.

Only there are just a few problems with the tweeting Musk.

The SEC sent Tesla a subpoena this week seeking information from each of the company’s directors.

The SEC typically opens an investigation of this kind when it believes a law has been broken and investors are at risk.

US law forbids companies from giving shareholders misleading information, so Musk could be in serious trouble if regulators can prove his tweet was aimed to goose his company’s share price.

 US law also forbids companies from going private if they have more than 300 shareholders. It is unclear how Musk intends to sidestep this rule.

The Wall Street Journal concluded about Musk and his tweets:

 “The development shows how Mr. Musk’s erratic behavior and seemingly unfiltered use of Twitter is a risk for Tesla, attracting unwanted drama as it tries to evolve into a more mainstream auto maker.”

Now when you become the CEO of a country, one could argue that the tweeting propensity intensifies the challenges for staffs, publics and for those who are not Americans but affected by that CEO’s tweets.

What exactly are tweets in terms of executive rule in the United States?

They are not executive orders.

They are not well worked public speeches or positions that reflect an Administration strategy.

They are the direct communication of the CEO to the broad global public of his instincts and emotions for the moment but is that really a good thing.

Would it not be better to wake up the next morning and chat with some of the folks who work for you to sort out what the implications of what your thoughts in the middle of the night might mean in the light of morning?

There is little question that tweeting can cause significant problems for CEOs in even achieving their own objectives, let alone setting in motion the kind of collaborative work which underlies any effective organization or Administration for that matter.

But can the tweet designed to make public policy be tamed or is it just inherent in billionaire behavior?