Tesla Shares Fall After Elon Musk's 'Pedo' Twitter Comment

Elon Musk

The tumble follows the tech billionaire's escalating spat with British caver Vernon Unsworth, who has said that he wouldn't rule out legal action after the tech billionaire publicly accused him of being a pedophile, an unsubstantiated claim that has baffled those who know the caver.

But asked if he would take legal action against Musk over the allegation, Unsworth said: "If it's what I think it is yes".

Musk responded on Sunday in a weird series of tweets referring to Unsworth, without using his name, as "pedo guy". The caver said, "I believe he's called me a pedophile". The original tweet and a second one doubling down on the message were later deleted.

Representatives of T. Rowe Price, Fidelity Investments and Baillie Gifford - Tesla's three largest shareholders, behind Musk himself - also declined to comment.

Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. But the boys were saved by a volunteer rescue team.

Musk didn't name Unsworth in his series of tweets over the weekend, though he said he would make a video to prove that the mini sub could have helped in the rescue. The rescue team rejected Musk's offer of a mini-submarine created by SpaceX to help rescue a 12-member soccer team and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand.

The drama comes amid a crisis at Tesla, which has yet to prove that profitable, high-quality mass production of its Model 3 electric sedan is achievable.

The investors went on to say that Musk's behavior was "fueling an unhelpful perception" of his leadership - calling it "thin-skinned and short-tempered".

In tweets that appear to have since been deleted, Musk said the submarine would have managed easily, as "you could literally have swum to Cave 5 with no gear". When the press, along with people actually working on the mission, failed to take his cave rescue plan seriously, Musk felt oppressed.

Mr Kay said Mr Musk appeared to be following in the footsteps of US President Donald Trump in using Twitter to vent frustration and insult anyone with whom he disagrees. "I haven't decided what to do next yet", Vern Unsworth told Reuters in Mae Sai town in Chiang Rai province, about 2 miles from the cave where the boys and their coach were trapped for 18 days.

Given the pressure, Musk may want to reconsider his approach to dealing with his critics, said Bryan Reber, who teaches public relations at the University of Georgia.

He said he felt sorry that the squabble with Musk had detracted from the successful end to the rescue mission.

The episode also seemed to repel some of Tesla's closest backers, including alternative-energy loyalists who saw in Tesla a worthy opponent to the juggernauts of the oil and gas industries.

"He had no conception of what the cave massage was like", said Unsworth, whose intimate knowledge of the cave was reportedly pivotal to the successful rescue effort.

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