Tesla investors are demanding an apology from Elon Musk after he branded a British cave diver who rescued children from a cave in Thailand a “pedo”.
The billionaire business magnate’s Twitter post sparked a huge backlash from shareholders in his firm, who later hit out further at Mr Musk in an open letter.
Mr Musk baselessly called the diver Vernon Unsworth a “pedo” in the social media rant before doubling down on the insult and eventually deleting the posts.
The shareholders’ open letter to the Tesla and SpaceX boss said his “many examples of concerning behaviour” is “shaking investor confidence”.
It went on: “The exchange with Vern Unsworth crossed the line. I suspect you would agree given you deleted the string from Twitter, but it will take more than that to regain investor confidence.
“Your behavior is fueling an unhelpful perception of your leadership – thin-skinned and short-tempered.
“Thankfully, the road to regaining investor confidence is well traveled. It starts with an apology. Then, focus your message on your progress toward achieving Tesla’s mission.”
Investors also suggested Mr Musk considers taking a “Twitter sabbatical”.
“Twitter might keep Tesla in the news but it won’t help continued improvements in production and product.”
Mr Musk launched the attack after Mr Unsworth slammed his offer of a mini submarine for the rescue of the Thai football team as a “PR stunt”.
Speaking to CNN, Mr Unsworth, who is from St Albans, said Musk’s prototype would have had “absolutely no chance of working”.
“He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” he said. “He had no conception of what the cave passage was like. The submarine, I believe, was about 5ft 6in long, and rigid, so it wouldn’t have gone round corners or obstacles.
“It wouldn’t have made the first 50 metres in from the dive start point. Just a PR stunt.”
The submarine was delivered to Thailand, but the rescuers said it was not required.
Mr Musk responded to Mr Unsworth’s comments in the bizarre tweets referring to the diver, without using his name, as “pedo guy”.
He said he would make a video proving the submarine would have worked, adding: “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it”.
Mr Musk then tweeted to more than 22 million followers: “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true”. He also said: “Never saw this British expat guy who lives in Thailand at any point when we were in the caves.”
The tweets were later deleted.
Musk had flown to Thailand and offered to assist in the rescue mission of 12 boys and their coach from a flooded cave by providing a submarine, but leaders of the operation declined his help.
Asked if he would take legal action against Musk over the allegation, Mr Unsworth told AFP: “If it’s what I think it is, yes.” Mr Unsworth, who spends part of the year in Chiang Rai, close to the cave, said he would decide when he flies home to the UK this week but said the episode with Musk “ain’t finished”.
Source : Standard