Elon Musk forced to step down as chairman of Tesla because of a single tweet
Elon Musk, the tech billionaire behind the likes of Paypal, SpaceX, and Tesla, has been forced to step down as the chairman of his own company because of a tweet he posted last month.
The controversial businessman has got himself into hot water on previous occasions because of various social media interactions but - perhaps surprisingly - it was this tweet that finally saw him see any serious consequences for his actions: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured."
Weeks after posting the announcement, Musk backtracked and said the company would not be going private. This outraged investors, as the confusion over Tesla's status caused chaos in the stock market, causing them to lose millions of dollars.
As a result, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit last week accusing Musk of fraud, and argued that the businessman never had any intention of going private - he just said as much in order to increase market interest.
"In truth and in fact, Musk had not even discussed, much less confirmed, key deal terms, including price, with any potential funding source," they announced.
The suit has forced Musk to step down as chairman of Tesla for three years - however, he will be allowed to remain as the CEO during that time. He and Tesla have also been fined $20million each in order to pay back investors, meaning that Musk's tweet was almost certainly the most expensive one in history.
Jay Clayton, the SEC's chairman, has said that he felt the deal was in the best interests of Tesla's investors, and was therefore allowed to go ahead.
"This matter reaffirms an important principle embodied in our disclosure-based federal securities laws," he announced.
"Specifically, when companies and corporate insiders make statements, they must act responsibly, including endeavouring to ensure the statements are not false or misleading and do not omit information a reasonable investor would consider important in making an investment decision."
Of course, this isn't the only Twitter scandal that Musk has been involved in recently.
Back in July, the 47-year-old innovator caused outrage after hurling baseless accusations of paedophilia at Vernon Unsworth - a man who helped save a number of boys that had been trapped in a cave in Thailand.
Musk apologised afterwards, claiming he had spoken in anger, stating: "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."
However, he then went on to make more libellous comments in emails with Buzzfeed.
"I suggest that you call people you know in Thailand, find out what’s actually going on and stop defending child rapists, you f**king asshole," Musk wrote. "He’s an old, single white guy from England who’s been travelling to or living in Thailand for 30 to 40 years, mostly Pattaya Beach, until moving to Chiang Rai for a child bride who was about 12 years old at the time."
So far, Musk does not appear to have faced any serious consequences for his tweet about Vernon Unsworth, but this most recent incident will almost certainly ensure that he watches his mouth on social media from now on.