When Elon Musk posted his April Fool's/Easter joke re a Tesla Bankruptcy, it appears no one was laughing.
CB Insights reports that the Company has lost $8B of its market cap in the last week. Just check out the 3 month stock chart.
The company also lost circa $2B last year, as Tesla's income statement below highlights.
6 very loud alarm bells were also going off at Tesla for any responsible investor.
- Moody's downgrades its credit rating and changed the outlook to negative from stable
- It issued $1.8B in junk bonds earlier this year.
- A Model X driver recently died using Tesla's Autopilot.
- 123,000 Model S sedans were recalled only yesterday due to the risk the vehicle's power steering could fail,
- Shareholders fighting the SolarCity merger won an early court battle
Oh dear. Who knew our darling Tesla would ever be cited as having "Enron-esque" characteristics.
You may recall Enron - the darling of America's energy industry that during its heights had a market cap that exceeded $60 billion. It left behind a human cost that still has shocks today - 29,000 people lost their jobs and medical insurance. The employee who worked an honest life’s work on an average wage, having invested their life’s pension in the company, walked away with only $4,500 in severance and saw their 300K pension fund transformed into only $1,200. Investors lost 1.2B in pension funds and retirees lost just over $2B... Many people took their own lives and the financial impact destroyed families. The 85,000 strong Audit Firm Arthur Anderson imploded... all while Enron's top executives paid themselves $55M in bonuses.
Unfortunately, 3 characteristics were synonymous with Enron
- Aggressive accounting practices and use of loopholes
- Misalignment of Executive incentives with the company's sustainability, and
- Cultural risks of conflicts of interest and lowered standards of corporate governance.
Instead of being inspired by Trump's tweet tactics and raising its investors concerns, perhaps its time for Musk to consider his LEADS* in both their corporate decision making and his corporate communications.
- Is it Legal? (Both locally & internationally),
- Is it Ethical (Is it regarded as unethical behavior by stakeholders even if legal?),
- Is it Acceptable (Is it criticized by some, but regarded as acceptable by most who matter most),
- Is it Defendible (Could we defend our action if this became front page news?) and
- Is it Sensible - Even if it failed all or some of the EAD criteria - does it still make good business sense?”
Alas, for Musk, this April Fools, investors were in no laughing mood.
It's time to adopt Enron's old catchcry, and "Ask "why?".
*LEADS is a methodology inspired by my mentor, @MikeLove. Mike is the former Chairman of Burson Marsteller UK, former advisor to Margaret Thatcher, and former Comms Director of Corporate Giants, Microsoft, G4S, BT and McDonald's.
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About Leesa Soulodre
Leesa Soulodre is Chief Innovation Officer of Inspirit IoT, an Adjunct Faculty Member of Singapore Management University, and an Expert for the European Research Agency on SME ICT Disruption. She is a Board member of RunwayHQ and Board Advisor to venture capital firm, Raiven Capital.
As a serial en/intrepreneur, Leesa has worked for more than 20 years on the cutting edge of strategy and technology. She has advised more than 400+ multinationals and their start-ups in 19 sectors across Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas and led companies with turnovers from $4M to $14B USD into new markets. She has shared the exhilaration of one IPO, numerous exits, and the hard knocks of lessons learned.