Elon Musk has joined the ranks of infamous CEOs who have pursued, or at least threatened, legal action against prominent critics (in addition to threatening shorts in his stock with "untold carnage"). That is the latest revelation in a statement by well-known Tesla bear Montana Skeptic.
Montana Skeptic took to Seeking Alpha today to release what he said would be his final statement. He confirmed our report yesterday - claiming that Elon Musk did in fact call his boss yesterday – without making an attempt to first contact him directly – and that he told a colleague of his he would "engage counsel and sue" if he did not stop writing about Tesla.
The text of the letter, as posted on Seeking Alpha, states the following:
Yesterday, July 23, I decided to cease writing about Tesla (TSLA) here at Seeking Alpha web site. I also deactivated my Twitter account, where I was @MontanaSkeptic1. Here is what prompted those decisions.
Yesterday afternoon, the principal of the family office in which I am employed received a communication from someone purporting to be Elon Musk. Doubtful that Elon Musk could actually be attempting to contact him, my employer asked one of my colleagues to investigate and respond.
My colleague then spoke by phone with Elon Musk (it was indeed him). Mr. Musk complained to my colleague about my writing at Seeking Alpha and on Twitter. Mr. Musk said if I continued to write, he would engage counsel and sue me.
My colleague then spoke with me about the phone call. We both agreed that Mr. Musk’s phone call and threatened lawsuit were actions that would tend to involve our employer in matters in which he has had no part. To avoid such a consequence, I offered to immediately cease writing at Seeking Alpha and to deactivate my Twitter account.
How did Mr. Musk learn my identity, and that of my employer? It appears to me his information came thanks to the doxing efforts of some of his followers on Twitter.
Neither Mr. Musk nor Tesla has ever attempted, at any time, to contact me. Instead, Mr. Musk determined to go directly to my employer.
I do not know what Mr. Musk’s precise complaints are about me. I do not believe he has any valid legal claim, and I would have no trepidation in defending myself vigorously were he to bring such a claim. My response to his threats were simply to protect my employer and preserve my employment.
And so, you might say, Elon Musk has won this round. He has silenced a critic. But he has many, many critics, and he cannot silence them all, and the truth will out.
I am proud of everything I wrote at Seeking Alpha, and have immensely appreciated the extraordinary support of so many SA members and contributors.
As a reminder, yesterday we first reported the story that Musk had reportedly called the employer of this well-known critic in order to complain about his negative takes and analyses on Telsa. Montana Skeptic has been one of the most vocal critics of Tesla and Elon Musk for the better part of the last couple of years. So when he disappeared from Twitter yesterday without explanation, it set off red flags to many Tesla skeptics.
That was until this Twitter post from Quoth the Raven, who has hosted Montana Skeptic several times on his podcast. He tweeted:
Guys - I'm beside myself & before you ask, this is NOT a joke - I just got off the phone with Montana Skeptic. He told me that he voluntarily deleted his Twitter account after Elon Musk personally called his boss to complain. I asked for Montana's permission to Tweet this. $TSLA— Quoth the Raven (@QTRResearch) July 23, 2018
The "skeptic" recently appeared on the Quoth the Raven Podcast to voice his skepticism of the company in a debate with HyperChange TV's Galileo Russell, a well known Tesla bull and investor in the company:
Skeptic has also written a multitude of articles on Seeking Alpha covering the story from a bearish standpoint. Naturally, he has disclosed numerous times that he is short Tesla by owning long-term puts in the name.
As we stated yesterday, this behavior brings fresh attention to Musk's emotional state and (in)ability to handle criticism. His conduct is totally unbecoming that of a CEO of a $50 billion company and in light of recent grumblings by TSLA shareholders, this move - more appropriate of a Chinese fly-by-night fraudcap CEO - may lead to more harm than good.