When corporations post quarterly data, their execs sometimes set up conference calls to provide information to analysts, investors, and reporters. Last week, Tesla’s Elon Musk tried to divert the attention of analysts from his corporate finances and onto the sexier terrain of technology.
“Excuse me,” Musk interrupted a caller who asked about Tesla’s capital needs, “Next. Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?”
News of his behavior circled the globe. Journalists wondered what Musk was hiding. The London Times compared his behavior to an Enron executive who dodged a question about Enron’s financial health by saying, “Thank you very much, we appreciate that—asshole.” The Enron exec later went to prison.
Tesla posted a record quarterly loss of more than $700 million for the first quarter of this year, twice that of the same period last year, which provides a very good reason for analysts to be asking about finances, as does the fact that Tesla is producing less than half the number of cars it needs to make the Model 3 profitable. Musk’s effort to deflect callers to technology matters did him no good, and even the corporation’s stockholders—generally considered Musk buffs—dumped on their erstwhile leader, driving share prices down by five percent in a single day. That represents a loss of about $2 billion.