Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, reached an agreement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday that requires the rambunctious executive to receive preapproval from lawyers before tweeting about certain topics. The SEC complained that Musk was in contempt of court after he tweeted about Tesla’s 2019 production goals in February.
Musk and Tesla each paid a $20 million fine last year after the regulator charged Musk with making “false and misleading” statements (tweets) about him potentially taking the company private at $420 per share. Musk’s February tweet, the SEC said, violated a condition of his settlement, which required Tesla lawyers to sign off on any of his statements that could influence the company’s share price. The updated compromise, which now spells out prohibited behavior, still needs a judge’s approval, but for a Twitter power user like Elon, it’s sure to dampen his style.
He won’t be allowed to tweet—or otherwise publicly share information—about Tesla’s financial performance, production schedule, or projections without adult supervision (i.e., an experienced securities lawyer). Communication about earnings reports, potential acquisitions, sales numbers, and even new business lines will all require preapproval. The agreement could even put an end to Musk’s online antics, like Tesla’s recently announced quiet, electric leaf blower. (Likely a joke.) Future pranks will probably be branded as Boring Company or SpaceX to avoid the SEC’s scrutiny.
In light of the new restrictions, I’ve put together a list of things that Musk is still allowed to tweet about freely. Hopefully this can soften the blow.
- Digging holes: To you and me, it might sound boring, but to Musk it’s totally Boring. His tunnel-digging company recently submitted a 505-page environmental assessment (pdf) on its proposal to build a link between Washington, DC and Baltimore. Luckily, the Boring Company is “STTA” (safe to tweet about).
- “RIP Harambe”: Musk can freely discuss the song released a month ago by his fictitious record label, Emo G (“emoji”) Records. It’s about a deceased gorilla with no known links to Tesla.
- Boring Company flamethrowers: Musk can definitely talk about setting things on fire without his lawyer’s approval. Setting a Tesla on fire, though, probably wouldn’t fly.
- Grimes (now known as “c”): Musk can safely tweet about his girlfriend (paywall), but he might want to be careful about addressing her July tweet about unionization efforts at Tesla. Although it’s not explicitly mentioned in the SEC’s list, talking about the Tesla workforce could put Musk in hot water.
- Sheep: Musk has recently demonstrated a fascination with sheep, much to the amusement of his Twitter followers. As long as it’s not linked to Tesla, there’s nothing baaad about it.