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Elon Musk steps down as Tesla chairman

After Elon Musk tweeted about taking Tesla private, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued him for "false and misleading" statements to investors. Now he's stepping down as chairman and paying a $20 million fine.

Posted: Dec 11, 2018 9:08 AM
Updated: Dec 11, 2018 9:17 AM

Elon Musk was at one point counting on Saudi money to take Tesla private. Now he says he wouldn't accept an investment from the country's sovereign wealth fund because of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In an interview with Recode, Musk said Khashoggi's killing inside the Saudi consulate in Instanbul on Oct. 2 was "really bad." Asked whether he would take money from the government-controlled investment fund now, he replied "I think we probably would not."

Musk had met with officials from the Saudi fund on July 31. The fund already had purchased nearly 5% of Tesla shares on the open market, and fund officials urged Musk to accept an additional investment to take the company private.

Musk said in a later blog post that he left that meeting "with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving." A week later he shook Wall Street by announcing in a tweet plans to take Tesla private. He dropped those plans within a few weeks.

Musk told Recode the Saudis may have sold their stake in the company since those discussions. Investors only have to disclose the extent of their holdings if they own 5% or more of the stock. He also said he still sees advantages to taking the company private.

"I think we could execute better if we were private," he said, saying that short-sellers who bet on a decline in the price of the stock do damage to the Tesla brand because the stock is public.

"Also being public, particularly when everyone at the company's a shareholder, causes a lot of distraction when the share price moves around a lot," he said. "The stock goes down, people are sad and feel undercompensated. And then when the stock goes up, people are exuberant, overly exuberant."

But he said that Tesla does not need to go private and that trying to do so again "would result in some short-term drama."

Musk and Tesla were both hit with $20 million fines by the Securities and Exchange Commission following Musk's tweet in which he said he had "funding secured" to go private. Musk also agreed to give up his chairman role at the company and to submit to more oversight of his tweets.

But he told Recode he intends to keep tweeting in much the same way, being careful only to avoid tweets that would move Tesla stock during the trading day.

"I tweet interesting things pretty much as they come to me, and probably with not much of a filter," he said. "I spend a lot less time on Twitter than people probably think. It's like maybe 10-15 minutes [a day]."

Musk also said he's spending less time at Tesla than earlier this summer when he was spending as much as 120 hours a week at work, with little time left for sleep.

"You're gonna go a little bonkers if you work 120 hours a week," he said. "Now we're down to 80 or 90. It's pretty manageable. 80 is pretty sustainable."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604509

Reported Deaths: 7638
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1249671779
Ramsey52513897
Dakota46840471
Anoka42774458
Washington27428291
Stearns22557225
St. Louis18138313
Scott17551136
Wright16379149
Olmsted13399102
Sherburne1202095
Carver1067448
Clay826192
Rice8202110
Blue Earth762644
Crow Wing681795
Kandiyohi667985
Chisago619952
Otter Tail585884
Benton582998
Goodhue483874
Douglas475581
Mower470533
Winona461351
Itasca459763
Isanti440064
McLeod430661
Morrison424762
Beltrami407861
Nobles407650
Steele397816
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton353056
Freeborn347033
Pine334923
Nicollet331245
Mille Lacs311854
Brown307840
Le Sueur297326
Cass286232
Todd285633
Meeker263443
Waseca238023
Martin235332
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182446
Redwood176539
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163323
Fillmore157610
Faribault154719
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122712
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95418
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371101

Reported Deaths: 6053
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58263640
Linn21221339
Scott20308248
Black Hawk16157312
Woodbury15240230
Johnson1462385
Dubuque13510211
Dallas1129199
Pottawattamie11228174
Story1071648
Warren583791
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554095
Sioux517574
Webster515894
Muscatine4882106
Marshall486976
Des Moines467672
Wapello4338122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300957
Henry294637
Bremer288461
Carroll287152
Boone268634
Crawford268240
Benton259855
Washington257351
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232651
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212071
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198735
Page194522
Buchanan194033
Cedar192423
Hardin187544
Fayette186643
Wright186040
Hamilton181951
Harrison180073
Clayton171057
Butler166335
Madison164619
Mills163824
Floyd163442
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152952
Hancock150334
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137233
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131837
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124917
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113623
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96732
Monroe96431
Unassigned9540
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7618
Taylor66812
Fremont6269
Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
Van Buren56318
Wayne54423
Audubon53311
Adams3444
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