Tesla CEO Elon Musk tried to convince investors that his chaotic ownership of Twitter was actually good for the electric carmaker, despite the fact that Tesla shareholders have seen their stock price plummet since Musk decided to buy the blue bird app on a whim last year.
In an earnings call on Wednesday, Musk was asked how he planned to protect Tesla’s brand and reputation from any backlash over his Twitter acquisition and his controversial political statements, many of which he makes on Twitter. It’s a question that has weighed heavy on Tesla investors over the past few months, a time where many have begged Musk to step away from Twitter and start paying attention to Tesla again.
Musk, in a typical fashion, didn’t answer the question directly. Instead, he paused and appeared to check his follower account and then went off on a rant on how his Twitter account and followers were good for Tesla.
“I’ve got 127 million followers. And it continues to grow rapidly. That’s suggests that I’m reasonably popular. I might not be popular with some people. But for the vast majority of people, like the follower count speaks for itself,” Musk said, according to CNBC. “[I have one of] the most interactive accounts, social media accounts, maybe in the world, certainly on Twitter, and that actually predated the acquisition. So, Twitter is actually an incredibly powerful tool for driving demand for Tesla.”
That stands to be debated. Last year, Morning Consult reported that the Tesla brand had taken a 20-point hit in favorability among Democrats between October and November and increased by onl 4 points among Republicans. This stands at odds with the typical purchaser of an electric vehicle, the research firm pointed out, who tends to be more liberal. In addition, there have been some reports of customers canceling their Tesla preorders or terminating their leases because they’re “embarrassed” by Musk’s behavior.
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Don’t tell Musk that, though. According to the Tesla chief, everything is fine. In fact, other companies could benefit from the marvels of Twitter if they started tweeting.
“I really encourage companies out there of all kinds automotive or otherwise to make more use of Twitter and to use their Twitter accounts in ways that are interesting and informative, entertaining, and it will help drive sales just as it has with Tesla,” Musk said in the earnings call.
Musk explained in the call that January had produced the highest orders year-to-date than ever in Tesla’s history, stating that the car company was getting orders “almost twice the rate of production.” Again, hard to attribute that to Twitter and not consider the effect of Tesla’s price cuts, which were up to 20% on some models, in the increased demand.
Against all odds, Tesla delivered stellar fourth quarter financial results on Wednesday, reporting $24.3 billion in revenue, an increase of 37% year-over-year. The company’s results exceeded analysts’ expectations, and shares rose 5% in after-hours trading.