Tesla (TSLA) shareholder Ross Gerber calls CEO Elon Musk's retaliatory remarks "sad,' as the owner of X lashed out at advertisers fleeing the platform over Musk's endorsement of antisemitic posts. Gerber, the CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, argues that as a prominent public figure, Musk must watch his words more carefully, failing to do so in this instance.
He notes Musk’s explicit social media outburst diminished attention to Tesla’s Cybertruck unveiling. Gerber believes the resulting backlash also stresses investors amid fears it could ultimately impact operations.
"Frankly, I think Tesla shareholders need to asses that we're on this boat and we have no control of the boat. And the guy piloting the boat has a lot of other boats. And that's just a fact," Gerber tells Yahoo Finance.
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JULIE HYMAN: Well, I want to dig into this a little bit more, especially given what's happened this week, right? And obviously, the comments that he made at the DealBook summit that got the most attention were about his other-- one of his other businesses, X. But, you know, it always comes back to this is the guy who's running these enormously powerful companies and, at times, seems to not really have it together, I'll say that diplomatically. So how much does that concern you as an investor?
ROSS GERBER: Well, there's two things that concern me in this part of this discussion. First is we spent a lot of time this week talking about what he said in DealBook, instead of Cybertruck. And it took a lot away from the Tesla event. I'm sorry, it's sad to me that everybody's talking about him cursing out advertisers versus the Cybertruck, which is really the story. It's an incredible piece of technology. So in a way, it's like sad to me.
You know, the second side of the story, as a Tesla investor, this isn't good for Tesla. There's no question it's affecting people's purchasing decisions. They're lowering prices. They're giving away charging. They're going to have to do more and more and more of this. We're in a highly polarized world today. And many of the things that US public figures say is highly parsed by our customers, including everything I say by my customers. And you know, we have to be very careful if we don't want to hurt our businesses and express ourselves freely.
And Elon's not doing a good job of that. And it's hurting Tesla. And that's what I've expressed. I really think it's unfortunate that his investment with X is such a conflict of interest for Tesla shareholders. But there's no doubt in my mind that it's hurting Tesla.
JULIE HYMAN: So what should be done about it? Should he-- I mean, you know, he found another CEO for X. That doesn't seem to have helped. Does somebody else need to be running Tesla more day-to-day? I mean, you know, he's not going to be quiet, that doesn't seem to be the remedy here. So what's the remedy?
ROSS GERBER: Well, Tesla, you know, Elon is not a collaborator. So he's not going to have some sort of COO-CEO partnership, like, for example, I do with my partner or many companies have. You know, I don't think-- I don't know who would run Tesla under the conditions that Elon would want and with the team that he has. And the best chance they had was Zach Kirkhorn who's now gone.
So this is my concern with Tesla is succession planning. I mean, it's Elon's company, it's basically like a private company. The board isn't going to do anything for the benefit of shareholders. So, you know, quite frankly, I think Tesla shareholders need to assess that that we're on this boat, and we have no control of the boat. And the guy piloting the boat has a lot of other boats. And that's just a fact.