Musk helps shareholders

On Aug. 7, Tesla exec Elon Musk tweeted, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured,” prompting a frenzy in Tesla shares that got worse with three other Musk tweets egging the market on. The Securities and Exchange Commission was not amused, filing a Sept. 27 suit to have Musk removed as chair and CEO of Tesla, bar him from heading any publicly traded company and impose fines. Shares were in a tailspin.

There was a reported settlement of a $10 million fine, with Musk keeping his CEO gig but stepping down as chair for two years, a settlement the Tesla board rejected.

A day later, a repentant board made contact with the SEC seeking a new deal. That deal, as finally drafted, included Musk departing as chair for three years and paying a $20 million fine, plus the corporation paying its own $20 million fine and adding two independent—independent, presumably, of Musk—directors to the board and an independent chair. Oh, and the corporation would curb Musk’s communications, including his use of social media.

Before the day was out, Musk tweeted a shot at the SEC: “Just want to [sic] that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!” Shares nose-dived again.

He kept tweeting into the night, and shares kept falling.

The settlement still needs court approval, and Tesla is seeking a new chair, being described variously in financial news reports as a manager, babysitter and an adult.