Felix Salmon at Axios:
Hours before signing a settlement to pay the SEC $10 million and step down as chairman of Tesla for two years, Musk changed his mind, precipitating an SEC lawsuit and the destruction of more than $7 billion in wealth as Tesla stock promptly plunged on Friday. So then Musk unchanged his mind, agreeing to pay a $20 million fine and step down as chairman for three years.
So he was going to play the ego card and “stand up” to the SEC, saw how dumb it would be, and promptly caved. If he had settled on Thursday, he would have paid less and been back as chairman sooner, but I’m sure no one explained that to him.
As Salmon so aptly puts it, Musk didn’t have much of a choice from the perspective of wanting to raise new money in the future. No one would be interested in giving Tesla cash while they’re tied up in an SEC lawsuit. Such a set of circumstances would ring the death knell for the car maker.
While my prediction wasn’t entirely accurate, I was correct on two points: he settled with the SEC and nothing largely happened to him. He’s still CEO. Whether we’ll forget this ever happened… I can imagine the regular consume will. Only time will tell if the debt markets and future investors do. (We know Tesla diehards will absolutely forget… hell, it’s already fake news to them, I’d imagine).