NEW YORK | By evoking on social networks the bitcoin or the saga of the moment on Wall Street, GameStop, Elon Musk is increasingly venturing out of his own companies to join the lineage of star bosses capable, in a few words, of d ‘influence the markets.
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For his latest coup, the leader of Tesla and SpaceX interviewed Sunday on Clubhouse – a social network accessible only by invitation – the general manager of the online broker Robinhood. The latter is in the hot seat for his management of the GameStop affair, a chain of video game stores whose share has recently soared and is shaking hedge funds.
After discussing jumbled up the colonization of Mars, cryptocurrencies or artificial intelligence, Elon Musk spoke with Vlad Tenev for 14 minutes, offering him the opportunity to respond to his detractors.
Robinhood has been limiting transactions on Gamestop’s shares for several days.
But the store chain in fragile financial health is supported by an army of small carriers crusading against large Wall Street funds betting on its decline.
” Spit it out. What happened last week? Why can’t people buy GameStop shares? Elon Musk asked. “People ask for answers and want to know the truth.”
Elon Musk, who became the richest man in the world on paper in early January thanks to the Tesla stock market boom, is followed by nearly 45 million Internet users on Twitter.
Driven by the success of his Tesla and SpaceX companies as well as by the interest in electric cars and the rockets they manufacture, he is considered by many admirers to be a visionary and his slightest speech seems to have an effect on some. investors.
When he changed his mini-description on Twitter to simply “#bitcoin” on Friday, the cryptocurrency’s price temporarily skyrocketed by around 20%.
Mentions of the Polish video game publisher CD Projekt, the e-commerce platform Shopify or the small designer site Etsy, who apparently delighted Elon Musk with a hand-knitted hat for his dog, also raised the bar. their action.
The entrepreneur, who has contempt for investors betting on the decline in shares, also got involved in the GameStop affair by tweeting a link to the WallStreetBets group on the Reddit forum, which contributed to the soaring of the specialist video games on the stock market.
That the course of certain companies is jostled by influential figures is nothing new, recalls Aswath Damodaran, professor of finance at New York University.
The comments of banker John Pierpont Morgan over 100 years ago or Chrysler boss Lee Iacocca in the 1980s were especially watched.
The words of businessman Warren Buffett are still scrutinized by many investors, which has earned him the nickname “oracle of Omaha”, the city in Nebraska where he lives.
“The fact that Twitter and Clubhouse have replaced traditional media reflects more media developments than markets,” says Damodaran.
Elon Musk, however, knew “to create a character of outlaw, marginal, which resonates very well with the male inter-self of tech”, notes Christopher Smith, professor of communication at the University of California of South.
In a very fragmented media world, he masters new technologies wonderfully to “arouse excitement,” he adds.
Other bosses like Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon from whom Elon Musk recently stole the place of the richest man in the world, “let the performance of their companies speak for themselves,” said Mr. Smith.
But Elon Musk is probably more “an attention-seeking narcissist, a showman,” he told AFP. It is often on his personal account that the news of his companies is relayed.
His presence on Twitter has also given him concerns.
Mr. Musk has had a lot of trouble with the US Stock Exchange Constable, who accused him in 2018 of deceiving investors by mentioning in a message a possible withdrawal from the Tesla Stock Exchange. This tweet forced him to step down as chairman of the board.