This month’s spat between Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and The New York Times cost Tesla more than just its credibility — it cut into Tesla’s value, too.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Musk said the negative Times review slashed Tesla’s value by up to $100 million as hundreds of would-be Model S owners canceled their orders.
“It probably affected us to the tune of tens of millions, to the order of $100 million, so it’s not trivial…I would say that refers more to the valuation of the company. It wasn’t as though there were 1,000 cancellations just due to The New York Times article. There were probably a few hundred,” Musk said.
Musk’s comments come days after he posted a follow-up to his initial rebuttal of the New York Times review. In it he quotes The Times’s public editor Margaret Sullivan, who agreed that there were indeed some slight inaccuracies in reporter John Broder’s review (though she didn’t go as far as to question his integrity).
At the time it seemed as if Musk intended his post to be the last word on the matter, but clearly that’s not the case. Instead, Musk seems to be crusading not just against Broder but against the New York Times itself.
Lots of people said that it does not matter if you’re right or wrong, you do not battle the New York Times. To hell with that. I would rather tell the truth and suffer the consequences even if they are negative. I do not think it should be the end of his career or that he should be fired, but I do think that he fudged an article.
Musk, of course, has a clear right to defend the Model S against inaccurate or biased reviews, especially if the reviews are costing Tesla Motors millions of dollars. But the one thing Musk probably doesn’t want is to come across as being overly defensive — even if his defense is justified.
Updated 10:34am Pacific: Removed snark in final paragraph.