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Warren Buffett: Tesla's Elon Musk has 'room for improvement' as CEO

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

Warren Buffett, the 88-year-old CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-ABRK-B), says Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has “room for improvement” when it comes to his behavior as CEO of Tesla.

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer, Buffett said that Musk, who has been dealing with a slew of legal problems caused by his prodigious use of Twitter, would likely agree with that assessment. Buffett called Musk a “remarkable guy” but said he doesn’t “see the necessity to communicate” over Twitter.

Musk's Twitter problems

Musk's Twitter account has been a source of near-constant headaches for the CEO and Tesla shareholders. In July 2018, he tweeted a disparaging remark about a diver who helped with the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a cave in Thailand. In the tweet, Musk called the diver, Vern Unsworth, a "pedo guy," insinuating that he was a pedophile.

Elon Musk headshot. Associated Press

He deleted the tweet amid the ensuing outrage, and Unsworth went on to file a defamation lawsuit against Musk. Tesla's stock fell as much as 4% following the tweet.

Then there was Musk's infamous tweet in which he declared that he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 per share, a seeming illusion to the 420 slang for smoking pot. The SEC charged Musk with securities fraud, since he didn't actually have funding for the move in place.

Musk eventually settled with the SEC, with both him and Tesla paying $20 million fines. Musk was also required to step down from his role as chairman of Tesla's board of directors, though, he was still able to hold on to his role as CEO.

Then in March 2019, Musk tweeted about the number of vehicles the company would make in 2019. In the tweet, Musk said Tesla would build 500,000 cars. He later revised that tweet to say that the company would deliver about 400,000 cars in 2019.

The SEC followed that up by asking a federal court to hold Musk in contempt for violating a term of the commission's settlement agreement with the CEO that required his tweets about Tesla be reviewed by the company's lawyer. The judge overseeing the hearing for the charge told Musk and the SEC to put on their "reasonableness pants" and work out a deal.

Buffett's tweets are slim

Unlike Musk, Buffett isn't a Twitter aficionado. In fact, the CEO doesn't even write his own tweets.

"I think I've got seven tweets, because a friend of mine signed me up for it," he told Yahoo Finance. "And she's called me about 100 times, saying, can I tweet this or that? And I have said yes two or seven times, I guess, or something like that. I've never actually written one myself. I don't even know how to do it."

Maybe Musk should follow Buffett's lead on this.

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Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@oath.com; follow him on Twitter at@DanielHowley. Follow Yahoo Finance on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, andLinkedIn.finance.yahoo.com/