Gene Munster: Open Letter to Elon Musk Was 'at the Request Of Investors'

July 18, 2018

By Conor White

Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a rare apology on Wednesday following serious backlash to his latest Twitter activity.

Gene Munster, Managing Partner at venture capital firm, Loup Venture, told Cheddar that Musk's contrition may signal a change in the CEO.

"Elon Musk doesn't apologize, so I think this is significant," he explained. "I think it is reassuring that he's going to take a more measured approach to Twitter. We think a sabbatical is a good thing in the near term, but longer term he does use Twitter to really advance the cause of Tesla."

The uproar stemmed from Musk's defamatory attack over the weekend against Vern Unsworth, one of the divers who rescued a soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand. Musk's tweets, in response to the diver's criticism of his "mini-sub" built to rescue the trapped children, prompted some to say he'd crossed a line.

In tweets Wednesday night, Musk admitted Unsworth's criticisms didn't excuse his conduct, saying "his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone."

Musk's apology follows what may have been an alarming stretch for some Tesla investors. Among his transgressions: lashing out at analysts on an earnings call, suggesting a system to rate journalists, and trading barbs with those commenting on his political donations.

Munster, who doesn't own Tesla stock personally or through his firm, penned an open letter to the CEO Wednesday on behalf of shareholders.

"Your behavior is fueling an unhelpful perception of your leadership – thin-skinned and short-tempered," the letter stated.

"This was also at the request of investors who are believers in the Tesla mission," Munster explained. "They feel that there's been a growing trend that's been a little bit disturbing over the last six months."

Despite Musk's recent actions, Munster believes the entrepreneur is still essential to Tesla's success.

"His vision really impacts everyone from factory line workers up to the C-level," he told Cheddar. "He is an inspiration, and it is something I haven't seen in the 20 years I've been covering tech."

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