Shares of Tesla Inc. have fallen nearly four percent after Chief Executive Elon Musk issued a series of tweets on Sunday, calling one of the British cavers involved in the rescue of 12 Thai children and their coach from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex last week a "pedo."
For his part, British Caver Vernon Unsworth (one of the men who helped rescue 12 stranded boys and their coach from the narrow network of twisted, turning, and flooded tunnels in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system by providing mapping knowledge of the cave to rescuers) said Musk's single person submarine prototype had "absolutely no chance of working."
Musk, who has since admitted he was angry about Unsworth's characterization of his efforts to aid in the rescue in the press as "just a PR stunt," seemed to lose all perspective on the situation, Sunday tweeting:
According to Reuters:
Tesla shares were at $307.20 in after-hours trading on Monday from Friday’s close of $318.87.
It all started when an interviewer asked Unsworth, "What are your thoughts on what Elon Musk's idea was?"
In the video, Unsworth, first appears to chuckle a bit and then looks around as if trying to see if the question is a put-on before answering with what appears to be his uncensored opinion of Musk and his mini-sub, saying:
He can stick his submarine where it hurts. It just had absolutely no chance of working.
Musk fired back on Twitter Sunday with the now infamous tweet, since deleted, saying:
We will make one (video) of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.
According to Reuters, Musk gave no evidence for alleging Unsworth was a pedophile. Unsworth is now said to be considering legal action against Musk over the remarks.
In an interview with Australia’s 9News, Monday Unsworth said:
It’s not finished. No justification. At the end of the day we were here to rescue 12 young boys. I don’t really understand the guy. Obviously it’s a bruised ego. I’ll take advice when I get back to London.
People online were having none of Musk's disparaging remarks after the remarkable rescue efforts that were made and the miraculous outcome for the boys and their coach:
It's midnight. A forest clearing. Elon Musk mutters to himself over a pond, his face ashen.— Andre H (@andre_hopping) July 16, 2018
"They're... heroes... I should... congratulate them..."
Scowling reflection of Elon Musk, staring up from the water: "call him a pedo"
To be completely clear about the "Elon Musk calls real life hero a pedo" thing: he not only said this, but doubled down on it. He is a wastebasket and if you stan for him, you should feel Very Very Bad.— Katherine Cross (@Quinnae_Moon) July 15, 2018
According to Esquire:
The controversy comes at a stressful time for the motor company which is under pressure to deliver their Model 3 Tesla to the market and is rumoured to be in need of investment to prevent them running out of cash.
Musk's investors appear to be none too amused, with James Anderson, a partner at Tesla’s fourth-largest shareholder, Ballie Gifford: Asset Management & Investment Trusts, stating in an interview:
We are very supportive, but we would like peace and execution at this stage. It would be good to just concentrate on the core task.
Musk's unfortunate tweets come on the heels of other rumored snafus and foot-in-mouth public statements including as Esquire reports:
...a car-crash joke Musk made on April 1st which wiped $2.5bn off the value of Tesla and other recent gems including the news he is sleeping on the floor of the factory and not showering, his threat to create a journalist rating system and claims that Wall Street are stealing data from Tesla.
He has since issued an apology: