Things for Tesla just went from bad to worse when in one of the most bizarre conference calls since Jeff Skilling had some choice words for Richard Grubman, Elon Musk unexpectedly and abruptly cut off the earnings call when he encountered a question he appeared to find "uncool."
Just as Bernstein's Tony Sacconaghi was asking one of the most important questions to emerge from this earnings release, namely what does it mean for battery and production capacity now that Tesla has cut its capex estimate, and just as CFO Ahuja started to provide some semblance of a response, the Bernstein analyst was suddenly cut off, only it wasn't because the line was dropped but because Musk literally cut off the analyst mid-question, saying "boring bonehead questions are not cool."
"We're going to YouTube. These questions are so dry. They're killing me", the petulant Musk said interrupting the next question in the queue which wanted more information on Model 3 reservations, at which point Musk proceeded to go to the Youtube channel reserved for questions from retail investors.
<Q - RBC's Joseph Spak>: Thank you. The first question is related to the Model 3 reservations, and I was just wondering if you gave us a gauge as maybe some of the impact that the news has had. Like, of the reservations that have actually opened and made available to configure, can you let us know like what percentage have actually taken the step to configure?
<A - Elon Musk>: We're going to go to YouTube. Sorry. These questions are so dry. They're killing me.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question is from Galileo Russell with HyperChange.
<Q - Galileo Russell>: Hey. Great quarter. Thanks for having me on the call to represent retail investors. I was wondering with Waymo's plans to launch an autonomous taxi service in limited markets this year if you could give us an update on the Tesla Network? And any details surrounding the launch date or geographical rollout? Thanks.
<A - Elon Musk>: Sure. Thank you for an interesting question.
Here is the recording of Musk mask of sanity slowly slipping off.
But at this point, the Musk meltdown only accelerated, as Musk attacked media stories questioning the safety of autonomy, i.e. the company's overhyped autopilot - which as Musk will tell you should never be called an autopilot if it results in a deadly accident - calling them "outrageous" and slamming "irresponsible" journalists who write about the dangers of autonomous vehicles, blasting that "people might actually turn it off and then die." Or, as the recent tragic incidents have shown, die after assuming the autopilot actually knows what it is doing.
At this point, Musk found a question that "wasn't boring" when someone on the Youtube channel asked how Tesla was competing with Porsche; the flamethrower man then gingerly pivoted into yet another non-sequitur, stating that "not being profitable is a good criticism that has been leveled at TSLA" and would be even greater if Musk had some answer to it, then claiming that "moats are lame" and what matters is the "pace of innovation", however by this point the stock of Tesla was in freefall, sliding 5% after hours as increasingly more investors experienced a proverbial light bulb moment, realizing just what an "unstable genius" Elon Musk is.
And then, as if the above wasn't enough, the absurdity really escalated when in response to Baird's Ben Kallo asking for more frequent production updates - i.e. when Model 3 production hits 3k or 4k a week - Musk said investors should be focused on long-term things, and snapped that he has "no interest" in satisfying the interests of day traders.
"Please sell our stock," he advised them, just as they were doing precisely that in the after hours.
Musk's meltdown continued by stating that "Tesla is a leaky sieve of information", and made another trade recommendation, saying that "if people are concerned about volatility, they should not buy our stock."
The full bizarre exchange below:
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Ben Kallo with Baird.
<Q - Ben Kallo>: Hey, Elon. So I remember the Baron story, I don't know if it was fake news or not, what you hung up on about your battery costs. And I don't want to ask the same question, but I think it's important because one of your stakeholders are shareholders right now, and so far we've had a couple of push-outs in production. Is there a way that you can update us when you get to that 3000 number or 4000 number per week? I mean you're active on Twitter. Can you just let us know because we are going to have a big back in here, and there's a lot of news flow out there that makes volatility into the slot, it makes it hard for people to own, even though you have a lot of believers out there. And so even though we'd be in my office right now, I think it's very important to give those kind of updates. And so that's -- I think that's my question. Can give us an update when you get to 3000 or 4000 per week on the Model 3.
<A - Elon Musk>: Yeah, actually, Tesla is such a leaky sieve of information that I think the news will leak pretty quickly. I also feel the track registrations quite closely. So at most any information that we provide would be a week or two in advance of what will become public knowledge just due to vehicle registrations and shipments that are tracked very carefully.
So really the point is like people get too focused on what's happening in the space of a few weeks or a few months. There's the whole maxim of investing, you should not be focused on short-term things, you should be focused on long-term things. We have no interest in satisfying the desires of day traders. I couldn't care less. Please sell our stock and don't buy it.
I think that if people are concerned about volatility, they should definitely not buy our stock. I'm not here to convince you to buy our stock. Do not buy it if volatility is scary. There you go.