Warren Buffett on Elon Musk: "I just don't see the necessity to communicate"

By Kate Gibson

/ MoneyWatch

Elon Musk could share less with the world, especially on social media. So says Warren Buffett, a man with fewer than a dozen tweets to his name.

That advice from the celebrated 88-year-old investor comes as Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission face an April 18 deadline to agree on how the Tesla CEO may communicate over social media without violating securities laws. The dispute being heard by a federal judge in New York stems from tweets by Musk on his efforts to take his electric-car company private, and whether he violated a later agreement with the SEC by tweeting with first getting clearance from a lawyer.

"I just don't see the necessity to communicate," Buffett, head of Berkshire Hathaway, told Yahoo Finance in an interview that aired Friday. Asked for his take on Musk's behavior as a CEO, Buffett added with smile: "I think it has room for improvement, and he would say the same thing."

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At the same time, Buffett called Musk "a remarkable guy," while noting that his own Twitter habits are limited to about seven tweets posted on his behalf at the request of a friend.

Judge tells Elon Musk and Securities Exchange Commission to settle dispute

Buffett's advice comes Musk faces key challenges at Tesla. The electric car maker surprised analysts on Thursday by suddenly ending online sales of its entry-level Model 3 vehicle. The shift comes less than two months after Tesla rolled out a long-awaited $35,000 version of Model 3, the vehicle Tesla is counting on to help it crack the mainstream auto market. Now, the least-expensive Model 3 available for ordering online in the U.S. is the $39,500 Standard Plus — those wanting the $35,000 model must call a Tesla sales representative or visit a Tesla showroom.

In a blog post, Tesla explained the move as an effort to simplify its line-up and focus its online ordering process solely on "the three Model 3 variants customers want most."

Tesla has also started leasing out its Model 3 sedan in the U.S., offering a financing option that could increase the company's customer base. Unlike other auto leasing agreements, Tesla customers will not have the option of buying the car at the end of the lease, with the company instead planning to reserve the autos for its planned ride-hailing network.

First published on April 12, 2019 / 12:17 PM

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