Elon Musk Compares Himself to Vegas Casino Owner

Tesla shares tumble after Musk interview sparks fresh fears
JOSHUA CAPLAN

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Friday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his thinking behind tweeting plans to take the embattled electric car company private was akin to how Las Vegas casino owners consider their odds of success.

Musk, unbeknownst to Tesla’s board of directors, tweeted on August 7 that he secured funding to take the Palo Alto-based company private at $420 per share.

The claim set off alarm bells at the SEC, which had already launched an inquiry into Tesla’s public statements about their manufacturing and sales targets, prompting the financial watchdog agency to probe Musk’s premature funding announcement.

Opening up about the infamous “funding secured,” tweet, the erratic billionaire told the Journal that he thought raising capital for the mammoth endeavor was feasible, hence why he was confident enough to declare to his over 20 million followers that taking the company private was a done deal. “If the odds are probably in your favor, you should make as many decisions as possible within the bounds of what is executable,” Musk said, later adding, “This is like being the house in Vegas. Probability is the most powerful force in the universe, which is why the house always wins. Be the house.”

Musk later admitted he had not secured funding, rather, a face-to-face meeting with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund had left him with the impression that the oil-rich nation would fund the proposal if the opportunity presented itself.

In another dramatic twist, Musk announced in a blog post last Friday that Tesla’s board of directors had abandoned studying proposals to take the electric vehicle company private.  “I worked with Silver Lake, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, who have world-class expertise in these matters, to consider the many factors that would come into play in taking Tesla private, and to process all the incoming interest that we received from investors to fund a go-private transaction,” wrote Musk. “I also spent considerable time listening to current shareholders, large and small, to understand what they think would be in the best long-term interests of Tesla.”

This week, CFRA, one of world’s largest independent financial research company, reduced Tesla share price target, while a handful of financial analysts downgraded its stock. The Wallstreet pile-on followed a New York Post report characterizing Tesla as a “sh*tshow.” “Elon talks about being a socialist and doing good for mankind — unless you work for them,” one source told the Post. “It’s a sh*t show.” “He is very difficult to move off his stance. He’ll say, ‘The car can do X, Y or Z,’ And yes, that is possible — two decades from now,” another Tesla insider said. “He bases his argument on the physically possible rather than the practical reality.”

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