(Adds details from court hearing, number of Twitter followers)
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, April 4 (Reuters) - Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk is a prolific user of Twitter, and a federal judge on Thursday urged him to settle contempt allegations brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over one of his tweets.
The SEC accused Musk of violating his Oct. 2018 fraud settlement with the regulator by posting an Feb. 19 update about Tesla’s production outlook without first getting required approval from lawyers for the electric car maker.
Musk countered that the tweet contained nothing new and did not need advance approval.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan gave Musk and the SEC two weeks to work out their differences before she rules.
The following is a sampling of some of Musk’s more notable posts on Twitter, where he has more than 25.6 million followers.
“Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019.” — Feb. 19, 2019. The tweet that prompted the SEC contempt motion. Musk has said the tweet merely restated outlook he provided on a Jan. 30, 2019 conference call, when he said production “may be on the order of 350,000 to 500,000 Model 3s, something like that this year.”
“Just want to that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!” — Oct. 4, 2018. Musk was attacking both the SEC and short-sellers by renaming the regulator just one week after being sued over the “funding secured” tweet. Twelve days after this tweet, he and Tesla reached their settlement with the SEC.
“Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” — Aug. 7, 2018. The tweet that prompted the SEC lawsuit. Musk was not close to taking Tesla private, and had not lined up financing. Tesla’s share price traded as much as 13.3 percent higher following the tweet, which occurred during market hours. Musk tweeted on Aug. 24, 2018 that Tesla would remain public.
“They have about three weeks before their short position explodes” — June 17, 2018. Musk frequently uses Twitter to attack short-sellers betting that Tesla’s share price will go down. He was responding to a tweet suggesting that short-sellers were “freaking out” about suspected problems on Tesla’s production line.
“Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt. So bankrupt, you can’t believe it.” — April 1, 2018. Some investors appeared to believe it. A day after the April Fool’s Day prank, Tesla’s share price fell 5.1 percent.
“When the zombie apocalypse happens, you’ll be glad you bought a flamethrower. Works against hordes of the undead or your money back!” — Jan. 27, 2018. Musk’s Boring Co sold flamethrowers and hats to raise funds to build underground tunnels for its hyperloop transportation project.
“I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.” — July 25, 2017. Musk was targeting Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who had downplayed Musk’s warnings about the danger of artificial intelligence.
“A little red wine, vintage record, some Ambien ... and magic!” — June 6, 2017. In an interview with the New York Times in August 2018, Musk said he takes Ambien and was having problems sleeping because of stress from his job.
“The rumor that I’m building a spaceship to get back to my home planet Mars is totally untrue” — March 12, 2015. Musk has said he wanted his company SpaceX to develop a rocket capable of an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight two years later.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker