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Elon Musk’s Funny New Strategy to Fight Tesla Short Sellers

Elon Musk is causing a ruckus on Twitter again, this time as he fired back against a financial analyst who suffered substantial losses after Tesla’s stock took off thanks to the Q3 financial report.  The analyst, Greenlight Capital CEO David Einhorn, is a well-known Tesla short seller, and we all know how Musk feels about short sellers.  After David Einhorn decided to bash the electric auto manufacturer, Elon Musk responded with his characteristic (and often strange) sense of humor.

“Mr. Unicorn”

To be fair, Einhorn threw the first punch in this round of their newest spat.  After his company, Greenlight Capital, experienced its worst year ever in 2018 with a loss of 34%, Einhorn decided to bash Tesla in both a letter to investors as well as during a conference call last Thursday.  He accused Tesla of using “creative” accounting to make itself look good, as well as highlighting Musk’s involvement in recent litigation regarding the buyout of SolarCity and accusing it of knowingly orchestrating “significant fraud”. 

Musk, of course, rarely takes such accusations lying down.  He responded with a short letter which he posted on Twitter:

In it, Musk is quick to point out Greenlight Capital’s recent losses and attribute Einhorn’s scathing criticism to a “desire to feel somehow relevant” in regards to his Tesla short position.  He advises Einhorn to get “smart” about Tesla and even invites him to a meeting and a tour of his facilities.

Finally, he offers to send Einhorn a gift of “short shorts” to help him through this “difficult time”. 

In case you are wondering about the names Musk uses in that letter, Einhorn means ‘unicorn’ in German.  ‘Treelon’ is probably a reference to Musk’s donation of 1 million trees to the Arbor Day Foundation last month.

Einhorn Responds

Not to be outdone, Einhorn quickly followed up with a letter of his own:

His response is far less tongue in cheek but manages to remain polite.  While he claims that Tesla has refused to answer questions from his firm in the past, he maintains that he is more than willing to get to know the company better.  “I truly appreciate your offer to build a direct communication so we can learn more about Tesla,” he wrote. “Please advise on how we should go about scheduling.”

That aside, Einhorn is “much more interested in, and [has] many questions about, [Tesla’s] financial statements”.

Elon Musk and David Einhorn

The two men do have a history, the last event of which occurred in August 2018.  After Einhorn stated that he would not renew his Tesla lease due to technology issues, Musk retorted with “Tragic. Will send Einhorn a box of short shorts to comfort him through this difficult time.” 

A San Francisco clothing brand jumped on the idea and sent a box of short shorts to Einhorn for the laughs, which Musk later echoed when he found out about it.

Einhorn later thanked Musk on Twitter for the shorts, though he says that they “did come with some manufacturing defects. #tesla”.

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