After Elon Musk's efforts to demonstrate his engineering genius in Thailand failed to be appreciated by the world resulting in an odd public spat with the leader of the local rescue team, the Tesla CEO, who suddenly appears eager to find any distractions from focusing on the one thing that matters to Tesla investors, producing cars, has found a new calling: he will take on the contaminated water system in Flint, Michigan.
Responding to a twitter dare that "there's NO WAY you could help get clean water to Flint, Michigan. Said you wouldn't be capable idk", Musk immediately responded:
Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding.
Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2018
He then asked people on twitter to "reply to my tweet with ppm & ppb test results & will send someone to install a water filter. Creating email firstname.lastname@example.org, but I’m in China so that won’t be working until tomorrow."
For now, reply to my tweet with ppm & ppb test results & will send someone to install a water filter. Creating email email@example.com, but I’m in China so that won’t be working until tomorrow.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2018
While the statement provoked the usual snarky comments from Twitter...
I woulda settled for a cash flow statement in the press release, but this is cool too. https://t.co/SmxxprrrNt— "Elon Says" (@ElonBachman) July 11, 2018
... Musk's latest hobby, however, could be frowned upon by one of Tesla’s biggest investors, who earlier on Wednesday called for Tesla to "keep its head down and focus on performance", or as Bloomberg put it, pipe down and execute.
Speaking in a Bloomberg TV interview, James Anderson, a partner and portfolio manager at Baillie Gifford & Co., Tesla’s fourth- largest shareholder, said that “we are very supportive, but we would like peace and execution at this stage", adding that “it would be good to just concentrate on the core task.”
While Anderson didn’t comment on Musk specifically or elaborate on Tesla’s issues while speaking from Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley conference, Anderson appears to be addressing Musk's increasingly erratic behavior of late: Musk has made headlines by attacking journalists and Wall Street analysts in recent months as the company has struggled to ramp up production of its Model 3 sedan and stem losses.
According to Bloomberg data, Baillie Gifford owned 12.8 million shares as of the end of March, a stake that’s worth more than $4 billion at current prices. Only Musk, T. Rowe Price and Fidelity owner FMR LLC have a bigger position.
It remains to be seen if the public chiding will lead to any substantial behavioral changes for Musk, who instead of producing cars appears to have spent the bulk of his past two months on twitter.