Example No. 8,791 of a company CEO who doesn’t like how his business is reported on in the business media occurred this week when Fortune reported several stories about Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors.
The first story was when business journalism legend Carol Loomis reported that Tesla didn’t report in a timely fashion to its shareholders that one of its self-driving cars had killed the driver.
That led to a Twitter brouhaha between Musk and Fortune editor Alan Murray.
Seems pretty material to me….. https://t.co/mionSHmgWo
— Alan Murray (@alansmurray) July 5, 2016
@alansmurray Yes, it was material to you — BS article increased your advertising revenue. Just wasn’t material to TSLA, as shown by market.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 5, 2016
Then, Fortune reporter Stephen Gandel uncovered a Tesla SEC filing that noted that the company did consider such crashes important for shareholders to know.
That led to a formal response from Tesla on its website, which argued that Fortune had mischaracterized its filing. Its response states, “The bottom line is that Fortune jumped the gun on a story before they had the facts. They then sought wrongly to defend that position by plucking boilerplate language from SEC filings that have no bearing on what happened, while failing to correct or acknowledge their original omissions and errors.”
Please. Conspiracy? — Elon Musk Calls Fortune’s Newest Article Part Of An Anti-Tesla Conspiracy https://t.co/gMWTTlBsly
— Alan Murray (@alansmurray) July 7, 2016
Murray went on CNBC on Friday to address the stories and to note that he’s a big fan of Musk.
Richard Washington of CNBC.com wrote, “A Fortune report claimed Tesla and Musk made a combined $2 billion by selling stock on May 18 in a public offering without disclosing the May 7 crash, which the company and founder knew about at the time.
“However, it was not until May 18 that the company was able to inspect the car and crash site, and did not complete its own investigation into the accident until the last week of May, Tesla said in a blog post Wednesday.
“Murray also raised the question of ‘whether someone [will] file a shareholder lawsuit,’ a possibility he believes is a ‘worry’ for the company.
“It spite of Murray’s questioning and tweets, he admitted, ‘I am a big fan on Elon Musk’ and said he thinks ‘the technology is great.'”
Then there’s this:
I think Tesla needs a crisis PR intervention: https://t.co/D17cGQqJ5m
— Olivia Solon (@oliviasolon) July 6, 2016