Elon Musk said Tesla short sellers are 'jerks who want us to die'

Key Points
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he wished Tesla were a private company
  • Musk said short sellers are amplifying negative rumors about the company
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Tesla short sellers are creating and amplifying negative rumors about the company, said CEO Elon Musk.

Tesla has tapped markets for capital several times since its initial public offering in 2010, but Musk said the company might be better off if it were private.

"I wish we could be private with Tesla," Musk said in a lengthy interview with Rolling Stone. "It actually makes us less efficient to be a public company."

Apparently one of the things he dislikes is the negative attention he says is fueled in part by investors with short positions.

Musk said short sellers are "jerks who want us to die."

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"They're constantly trying to make up false rumors and amplify any negative rumors," he said. "It's a really big incentive to lie and attack my integrity. It's really awful."

As of Wednesday, the short interest in Tesla is roughly $8.3 billion, down from the 2017 high of $11.4 billion in September, according to data from S3 Partners.

Shorts have lost money on Tesla overall in 2017, but have made about $635 million in November, S3 Partners managing director Ihor Dusaniwsky told CNBC. Tesla shares have risen 43 percent in 2017.

Shares were down slightly Wednesday, trading around $308.

Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates said this week he is among the investors who have increased their short positions throughout the year. The noted short seller said he expects Musk to step down from his position by 2020 to focus on his private rocketship company SpaceX as competitors such as BMW and Porsche expand their lines of luxury electric vehicles, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Tesla is going through a challenging period. Bringing is mid-priced Model 3 sedan to market has placed the company in what Musk has called "production hell." Tesla delivered far fewer Model 3 cars than expected in its first quarter of production.

Tesla also faces a proposed class action lawsuit alleging racism on Tesla's factory floor. The company responded to the suit blog post, saying the suit contains a number of false statements.

The wide-ranging interview touched on several aspects of Musk's life, such as his roles at SpaceX and Tesla, his difficult relationship with his "evil" father, and his relationships with women.

Read the full story in Rolling Stone

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