Tesla’s billionaire CEO has a chance to expand his influence, but he can also give his critics new ammunition.
It’s money time for Elon Musk.
If summer is behind now, autumn is off to a flying start for the richest man in the world.
The tech tycoon has important appointments at the end of September that could have a considerable impact on the empire he is building. These appointments can also affect the image of a revolutionary and visionary boss that he is building.
These appointments relate to two fronts: the abrupt withdrawal of his offer to acquire the social network Twitter (TWTR) – Get Twitter Inc. Report for $44 billion and the promise to unveil an advanced humanoid robot to be marketed in 2023.
On September 26 and 27, Musk will be grilled by Twitter lawyers, who are asking the Delaware Court of Chancery to compel the entrepreneur to honor his initial commitment to acquire the platform.
The stakes are financial for Musk, who personally wanted to take control of the social network. If he loses, he would have to shell out $44 billion of his personal wealth, which is largely based on his Tesla (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. Report shares. But Musk had managed to secure the support of partners before his abrupt withdrawal on July 8.
If Twitter loses, it is not excluded that the market value of the platform, which is a place where trendsetters and opinion makers gather, will suffer enormously because doubts about its profitability will undoubtedly resurface.
Musk’s excuse for withdrawing his bid is that the social network is lying about how many spam bots, or fake accounts, exist on the platform. However, advertisers take into account the number of users on a social network to determine whether they promote their products and services there.
Twitter has always said that fake accounts make up less than 5% of its users, but Musk says that number is closer to 20%. It should however be noted that the billionaire made the choice from the outset to make a bid without prior due diligence as is customary in mergers and acquisitions.
Twitter believes that Musk changed his mind when he saw the markets shaken by fears of recession. Basically, it’s all about the money or the price. Twitter shares are currently trading at $41.58, $13 less than the $54.20 per share offered by Musk on April 25 to acquire the entire company of which he had already been the largest shareholder since April 4 with a 9.1% stake.
Will Musk Deliver?
On April 22, the last trading session before Musk’s bid announcement, Twitter shares closed at $48.93.
The deposition, which can be extended to September 28, is supposed to take place at a law office in Wilmington, Del., according to a court filing.
A five-day trial is scheduled for Oct. 17 before Delaware Court Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick.
Regardless of the outcome of the deposition, Musk is eagerly awaited by his fans and his detractors on September 30. The mogul is supposed to reveal a functional Optimus, a humanoid robot that will replace humans in Tesla’s factories, during a day dedicated to the progress of artificial intelligence at Tesla.
This is the second edition of Tesla AI Day, an event launched in 2021.
“Tesla AI Day pushed to Sept 30, as we may have an Optimus prototype working by then,” Musk announced on Twitter on June 2.
The billionaire had said in January that a prototype Optimus would be ready by the end of the year and Tesla planned to market it from 2023.
No details have leaked on what Optimus will be able to do.
The question is: Will Musk deliver?
“I think actually the most important product development we’re doing this year is actually the Optimus humanoid robot. This, I think, has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time,” the tech tycoon said during the first-quarter-earnings call.
This is a big gamble as Musk has struggled to generate much excitement around Optimus. The Optimus concept is fueled by the mogul’s desire to replace humans with robots in his factories. It was introduced in August 2021, during the first Tesla AI Day.
Optimus looks like a human in a robot suit, nearly six feet tall and weighing 125 pounds. It will use the same AI systems that helped power Tesla vehicles, Musk said at the time.
Optimus will assist with repetitive tasks around the factory, the company has said. Tesla wants to produce 20 million vehicles annually, compared to almost one million in 2021.
The humanoid robot could herald an era when “physical work will be a choice,” Musk has said. Ultimately, it could mean “there will need to be universal basic income,” according to the billionaire.
However, in 2018, Musk acknowledged that sometimes too much automation is a “mistake.”
“Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated,” the billionaire said at the time.