Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveils the Model 3 electric car in 2016. (Tesla via YouTube)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to keep his Twitter habit in check — and feels comfortable enough with the arrangement to refer to it in a teasing tweet.
Friday’s settlement was a serious matter: Musk could have faced sanctions for contempt of court if he failed to patch up the rift with the SEC over whether he was following the terms of an earlier settlement.
To refresh your memory, the SEC accused Musk of securities fraud last September for incorrectly claiming on Twitter that he had secured funding to buy up publicly traded shares of the Tesla electric-car company and take the company private.
Under the terms of the settlement of that fraud case, Musk and Tesla each paid a $20 million fine, Musk agreed to surrender his title as chairman, and he agreed to have tweets about Tesla reviewed in advance by a company overseer. (Some folks have referred to that person as Musk’s “Twitter sitter.”)
During the months that followed, Musk made statements suggesting that he had a loose interpretation of what fell under the Twitter sitter’s purview, and in February he sent out a controversial Tesla-centric tweet that the company’s lawyers acknowledged wasn’t cleared in advance.
Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 20, 2019
That’s what set off the SEC’s contempt complaint.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan told Musk and the SEC to resolve their differences, and after a couple of extensions, the two parties finally filed the proposed agreement for Nathan’s review and likely approval. The consent motion gets specific about the topics that Musk will have to have the company overseer review before issuing written statements in venues ranging from Twitter to press releases and blog posts. (We’ve included the list at the end of this report.)
Musk didn’t make any direct comments about the agreement, or how he’ll change his tweeting ways, but he did touch on the tiff in a Twitter conversation about his Twitter habit. (So meta!)
Here’s how the exchange played out:
@elonmusk sometimes i think Neuralink is already implanted in you…
how can you keep up with all of your twitter mentions & pick which one is important or interesting to respond to!?
— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@JaneidyEve) April 27, 2019
Only see about 5% of mentions. No deep logic to those I answer. Aspirationally useful, but often whimsical.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 27, 2019
It’s just me writing, so the foolish things I say are entirely my fault