Tesla CEO Elon Musk Had a Really Bad Week

Elon Musk’s many other companies were almost completely overshadowed this week by the latest goings-on at Twitter, which is now called X. The name of the famous microblogging platform, as well as its classic blue bird logo, have been replaced with “X” and a simple black-and-white iteration of the letter that now serves as the platform’s logo. 

Musk said months ago that, in part, he purchased Twitter to accelerate his dreams of realizing an ‘everything’ app. Rather than attempt to build a new social network from the ground up, Musk bought Twitter and gradually began to expand the platform beyond its humble microblogging beginnings. 

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But not everyone is on board with the sudden evolution. And in the midst of these Twitter changes, a bunch of big reports came out about Tesla. And they don’t look too good for Musk. 

Twitter Is Now … X

Musk has been obsessed with the idea of “X” for a long time. In addition to naming his son “X,” his companies SpaceX and xAI feature the engaging little letter. And, now Twitter does, too. 

The Musk-to-X connection stretches back almost 25 years. In the early 1990s, a 19-year-old Musk interned at Scotiabank in Canada. What he took away from the experience was a drive to disrupt the banking industry. His method for doing that was X.com, something that was intended to serve as a digital one-stop financial shop for customers. 

The startup had some early successes, eventually merging with the Peter Thiel company that would later become PayPal. In 2001, X.com was officially axed and the site became PayPal, despite Musk’s irritation. It was sold a year later to eBay for $1.5 billion. But Musk never gave up on his dream of X.com — he repurchased the domain in 2017, and the moment he purchased Twitter, saw a pathway to recreate X. And this time, not even Peter Thiel could make him change the name. 

Twitter officially became X on July 23 and the immediate reaction wasn’t very positive; many users likened the rebrand to Coca-Cola’s disastrous (and short-term) “New Coke” rebrand in the 1980s. 

Analysts and investors had a different issue with the rebrand: advertising. 

“I’m struggling with rebranding Twitter to X and losing the little blue bird’s brand equity. Today everything works together — we tweet or re-tweet on Twitter and the blue bird reinforces that Twitter is the best platform to announce big events,” Gary Black, the managing partner of the Future Fund, tweeted. “Advertisers who dislike change may wait to see how the branding change impacts advertising efficacy.”

Wedbush’s Dan Ives concurred, though he expressed some cautious excitement over the coming possibility of Musk’s everything app. 

Meanwhile, some legal experts said that X might soon get caught in a storm of trademark infringement cases; the letter is trademarked by around 900 companies, including Microsoft and Musk’s big rival, Meta. 

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Tesla Is Under Investigation Again

Tesla came under fire this week as news of several different investigations into the company broke. 

The first one — a lengthy report by Reutersrevealed that Tesla has been exaggerating the ranges its EVs can cover on a single charge. And further, that the company established a “Diversion Team” whose main job was to cancel maintenance appointments made by customers with range concerns. 

The Las Vegas-based team canceled hundreds of appointments every week; as they celebrated these victories, their managers told them that they were saving the company about $1,000 for each canceled appointment. 

Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Free Report did not respond to TheStreet’s request for comment. 

The cars that customers wanted Tesla mechanics to look at over these range concerns (cars not going nearly as far as advertised) did not require any repairs, according to the report. There was nothing to repair; the issue wasn’t mechanical, rather, it was one of unrealistic expectations hyped by the company that its cars just couldn’t deliver. 

A day before that report came out, a CNBC report found that the California attorney general has undertaken his own investigation into Tesla over concerns about Autopilot/Full Self-Driving (FSD) safety and false advertising. 

The office of the attorney general is currently seeking more information from customers and former employees; the office declined to either confirm or deny the investigation to CNBC in an effort to protect the integrity of a potential investigation. 

This is not the only ongoing official investigation that Tesla has to deal with. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been conducting an ongoing probe into Tesla over Autopilot and FSD safety concerns for months, recently asking Tesla for updated data and information relevant to the probe.

And a Bloomberg poll of thousands of Tesla Model 3 owners found that, though they tend to love their cars, they are not a fan of Musk or his other ventures (especially Twitter). Of those surveyed who have sold their Teslas, the most common reason was “disapproval of Elon Musk.”

Quotes, Tweets and More Musk Commentary 

As usual, no matter the news coming out of Musk’s other companies, he could never stop tweeting, or Xeeting, about the world. 

He offered to provide additional assistance to Boeing, whose Starliner project has been losing money amid continuing launch setbacks. 

“SpaceX provided its knowledge of crewed parachute systems to Boeing and we are happy to be helpful in any other ways,” Musk said. “Designing parachutes for orbital, crewed spacecraft is much harder than it may seem. Was a major challenge for SpaceX.”

This is not unusual for Musk; he has previously offered to provide Tesla’s tech to his automotive competitors, offering to license FSD tech and allowing other carmakers to use his Supercharger network. 

And in response to the news that Bronny James, LeBron James’ son, had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during basketball practice at USC, Musk suggested that the culprit might be the Covid-19 vaccine

“We cannot ascribe everything to the vaccine, but, by the same token, we cannot ascribe nothing,” he tweeted. “Myocarditis is a known side-effect. The only question is whether it is rare or common.”

Recent studies have found myocarditis to be a rare side effect; studies have also found sudden cardiac arrest to be a leading cause of death among young athletes. Further, the CDC has said that the risk of heart complications was significantly higher following a Covid infection compared to a Covid vaccination. 

Musk’s own Community Notes posted a note on his tweet, pointing out that myocarditis has a greater association with Covid infection than vaccination. The note was removed July 26, and has yet to reappear.

The Community Note fact-checking Elon’s post that the covid vaccine may have caused Lebron James’s son cardiac arrest has been removed. One of the perks of owning the company is that you are never wrong. pic.twitter.com/5SZ6VOtWcA

— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) July 26, 2023

“One of the perks of owning the company is that you are never wrong,” Ron Filipkowski, who pointed out the absence of the note, said. 

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